Some countries have taken unprecedented steps to expand access to abortion in recent years, but international rights groups have long warned that the reversal Roe vs. Wade could weaken abortion rights around the world, potentially leading some countries to adopt new restrictive laws.
As NPR’s Ayana Archie and Joe Hernandez report:
Many countries are expanding access to abortion
Ireland legalized abortion in 2019, Argentina legalized it in 2020, New Zealand decriminalized abortion in 2020, and Mexico’s Supreme Court voted to decriminalize it last year. In February, Colombia’s highest court legalized abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Global Justice Center said in a joint brief that 60 percent of women of childbearing age live in countries where abortion is available.
“Only 26 countries, representing 5% of women of childbearing age, ban or completely ban abortion,” they wrote.
The brief adds that 34 of the 36 countries the United Nations classifies as “economically developed” — including the United States — make abortion accessible. Poland and Malta were the only exceptions.
The groups also note that the United States has signed several international treaties (including the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) that include the right to non-discrimination; the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to privacy; and the right to life.
According to the organizations, by restricting access to abortions, people will be forced to resort to unsafe and unsanitary procedures, thereby jeopardizing their right to life.
But those seeking to clamp down on abortion could use the United States as an example
Human rights advocates claim that the overthrow of deer would not only hurt the perception of the United States on the world stage, but could also lead some countries to adopt their own more restrictive laws.
Licha Nyiendo, legal director of the group Human Rights First, wrote in a statement after the leaked draft opinion that such a decision was “a step in a very dangerous direction for everyone in the United States and a chilling signal to authorities around the world. that they can deprive the peoples of their countries of long-established rights.”
Tarah Demant, Amnesty International’s acting national director for programs, advocacy and government affairs, told NPR that other countries could point to the United States to legitimize their own restrictive policies.
Take Poland for example, she said: The country has been criticized by the European Union for severely restricting abortion, but may soon claim the bloc’s close ally has done much the same thing.
“You have before you an emboldened anti-rights movement,” Demant said.