US abortion ruling sparks global debate, polarizes activists

Jun 23, 2022, 11:05 PM | Updated: Jun 24, 2022, 8:45 pm
Demonstrators gather outside the United States embassy in Vauxhall to protest against the decision ...

Demonstrators gather outside the United States embassy in Vauxhall to protest against the decision to scrap constitutional right to abortion, in London, Friday June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years — a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court's landmark abortion cases. Friday’s outcome overturning Roe v. Wade is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. (Ashlee Ruggels/PA via AP)

(Ashlee Ruggels/PA via AP)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The end of constitutional protections for abortions in the United States on Friday emboldened abortion opponents around the world, while advocates for abortion rights worried it could threaten recent moves toward legalization in their countries.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision “shows that these types of rights are always at risk of being steamrolled,” said Ruth Zurbriggen, an Argentinian activist and member of the Companion Network of Latin America and the Caribbean, a group favoring abortion rights.

But in El Salvador, anti-abortion campaigner Sara Larín expressed hope the ruling will bolster campaigns against the procedure around the globe.

“I trust that with this ruling it will be possible to abolish abortion in the United States and throughout the world,” said Larín, president of Fundación Vida SV.

In Kenya, Phonsina Archane watched news of Friday’s ruling and said she froze for a while in a state of panic.

“This is being done in America, which should be an example when it comes to the women’s rights movement,” said Archane, an activist for abortion rights. “If this is happening in America, what about me here in Africa? It’s a very, very sad day.”

She worried the ruling will embolden abortion opponents across Africa who have charged into reproductive health clinics or threatened attacks. “There is no safe place on the continent,” she said.

Abortion in sub-Saharan Africa is already more unsafe than in any other region of the world, and the overwhelming majority of women of child-bearing age live in countries where abortion laws are highly or moderately restricted, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based research organization that supports abortion rights.

Archane said civil society groups in Africa will have to come together to work out strategies on how to keep themselves and women safe. Just months ago, many saw hope when the World Health Organization released guidelines on quality abortion care, she said. “We had a step ahead, and now we have to go five steps back again.”

The decision, which leaves it up to lawmakers in individual U.S. state to decide whether to allow or ban abortions, lit up social media across Argentina, where a law that legalized elective abortion up to the 14th week of gestation took effect in January 2021 after years of debate.

Anti-abortion activists cheered the ruling, with legislator Amalia Granata tweeting: “There is justice again in the world. We are going to achieve this in Argentina too!!”

In more conservative countries like El Salvador, where abortions are illegal no matter the circumstance and where some 180 women with obstetric emergencies have been criminally prosecuted in the last two decades, Larín warned that the ruling could inspire yet more efforts to loosen abortion restrictions outside the U.S.

“Campaigns promoting abortion may intensify in our countries because funding and abortion clinics in the United States are going to close as they have been doing in recent years,” she said.

At the Vatican, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, joined U.S. bishops in saying it is a time for reflection, healing wounds and civil dialogue.

“The fact that a large country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position on this issue also challenges the whole world.” the academy said.

In Mexico, lawyer and activist Verónica Cruz said the ruling could give a boost to anti-abortion groups, but added it likely won’t have any impact in Mexico where 10 of the country’s 32 states have legalized abortion up to 12 weeks gestation in recent years.

She noted the ruling could lead to an increase in calls for help from U.S. women seeking to have abortions in Mexico or to get pills to interrupt pregnancies from Mexican pharmacies. So far this year, local activists have helped some 1,500 U.S. women for those purposes, Cruz said.

Ricardo Cano, with the anti-abortion group National Front for Life, also doubts the ruling would have any impact in Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America, given the advance of leftist ideologies in the region.

Colombia, which became in February the latest Latin American country to expand access to abortion, also will not be affected by the ruling, said Catalina Martínez Coral, director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip overseas, the heads of at least two Group of Seven members called the decision “horrific.”

“No government, politician or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, adding that he “can’t imagine the fear and anger” women in the U.S. must be experiencing in the wake of the ruling.

The French Foreign Ministry urged U.S. federal authorities “to do everything possible” to ensure American women have continued access to abortions, calling it a “health and survival issue.” France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, added in a tweet that “abortion is a fundamental right of all women.”

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said: “Watching the removal of a woman’s fundamental right to make decisions over their own body is incredibly upsetting. Here in New Zealand we recently legislated to decriminalise abortion and treat it as a health rather than criminal issue.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organiztion, said on Twitter that he was “concerned and disappointed” by the ruling. saying it reduces both “women’s rights and access to health care.”

The U.N. agency dealing with sexual and reproductive health said that whether or not abortion is legal “it happens all too often” and global data shows that restricting access makes abortion more deadly.

The United Nations Population Fund issued a statement following the Supreme Court’s decision noting that its 2022 report said that nearly half of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended and over 60% of those pregnancies may end in abortion.

“A staggering 45% of all abortions around the world are unsafe, making this a leading cause of maternal death,” the agency said.

It said almost all unsafe abortions occur in developing countries, and it fears that “more unsafe abortions will occur around the world if access to abortion becomes more restricted.”

In the only part of Latin America directly affected by the ruling, Puerto Rico, the island’s Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would prohibit abortions after 22 weeks or when a doctor determines a fetus is viable, with the sole exception being if a woman’s life is in danger. The bill is now before the island’s House of Representatives.

Dr. Migna Rivera García, president of Puerto Rico’s Association of Psychologists, said the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling has prompted abortion rights activists to reformulate their strategy.

“It causes a lot of uncertainty given the environment right now in Puerto Rico,” she said. “This bill harms poor women and black women the most. … They don’t have access to services like other social groups.”

___

Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Associated Press writers Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Marcos Alemán in San Salvador, El Salvador; Edith Lederer at the United Nations; Fabiola Sánchez in Mexico City; Frances D’Emilio in Rome; Astrid Suárez in Bogotá, Colombia, and AP journalists around the world contributed to this report

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Senior Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif poses for photograph prior to recoding an episode ...
Associated Press

Report: Killing of Pakistani journalist in Kenya ‘planned’

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The killing in Kenya of an outspoken Pakistani journalist was a “planned assassination,” a team of Pakistani investigators said in a report released Wednesday, weeks after the mysterious slaying triggered condemnations and calls for an independent probe. Meanwhile, Islamabad police charged two Pakistani businessmen living in Kenya who had hosted Arshad Sharif […]
1 day ago
FILE - Juul products are displayed at a smoke shop in New York, on Dec. 20, 2018. Embattled vaping ...
Associated Press

Juul reaches settlements covering more than 5,000 cases

Juul Labs has reached settlements covering more than 5,000 cases brought by about 10,000 plaintiffs related to its vaping products. Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Juul said that it has secured an equity investment to fund it. Buffeted by lawsuits, Juul announced hundreds of layoffs last month and bankruptcy appeared increasingly […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Editorial Roundup: United States

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad: Dec. 5 The Washington Post on microchips, the U.S. and the future When President Biden visits a microchip factory under construction in Arizona, it might look like a political victory lap: The factory will bring $12 billion and thousands of jobs to an important swing […]
1 day ago
FILE - Local residents gather near a generator to charge their mobile devices in an area controlled...
Associated Press

Donors race to get generators, other aid to hard-hit Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — When Russian forces launched a military campaign against infrastructure in Ukraine nearly two months ago, they opened a front that carried the war along power lines, water mains and heating systems to homes, schools, offices and churches. The government in Kyiv and the Western countries that have backed it with billions […]
1 day ago
FILE - A Boeing 747-8, Boeing's new passenger plane, takes its first flight, Sunday, March 20, 2011...
Associated Press

Boeing’s last 747 to roll out of Washington state factory

After more than half a century, Boeing is set to roll its last 747 out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday.
1 day ago
Associated Press

Co-buying a house: How platonic partners make it work

Seven years ago, Phil Levin and his girlfriend, Kristen Berman, pondered a common question: Should we move in together? Levin assumed they’d take a predictable path and find a more affordable apartment outside of pricey San Francisco. But Berman, a behavioral scientist, shared her reservations about leaving their friend network – and some facts to […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
US abortion ruling sparks global debate, polarizes activists