How the battle for abortion rights in the United States affects women around the world
As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on what would be the biggest setback in abortion rights since Roe v Wade enshrined access to contract terminations in 1973, the effect of its ruling could send shock waves across the world.
While the effect of U.S. policies on abortion abroad is not a new phenomenon, it is likely that any move to restrict or repeal Roe v Wade would have an unprecedented chilling effect on rights to abortion in the world.
As a provider of safe abortion and reproductive health, many of our national programs have felt the full force of Trump’s Global Gag Rule, a US policy that has blocked US federal funding for abortion abroad. and helped further legitimize anti-choice movements outside the United States.
As Trump stepped down almost a year ago and the global gag rule was overturned by President Biden, the anti-choice movement is backed by attacks on abortion rights in Texas and in Mississippi, both are home to organizations that fund anti-choice movements around the world.
In Africa in particular, we see funding and textbooks exported by American anti-choice groups that support local agencies in countries like Uganda, Zambia and Nigeria.
This helps to spread stigma and misinformation about sexual and reproductive health, often putting women’s lives at risk. As the war on abortion rights rages in America, the global anti-choice movement is bolder and louder than ever.
The anti-choice movement is well funded, reaching almost every country on the planet. According to the European Parliamentary Forum, around £ 530million was spent on funding the fight against gender equality between 2009 and 2018 in Europe alone, including by wealthy people and religious extremists close to it. Trump administration.
This ensures that anti-choice activists can continue to harass women and pregnant people outside of our UK clinics, while influencing the highly restrictive abortion bills in Poland and Hungary.
The effect of this resource-rich movement extends to Africa, Asia and Latin America as well. Open Democracy estimated last year that right-wing Christian organizations in the United States spend an average of $ 280 million each year attacking abortion and LGBTQIA rights.
Everywhere we work, harassment and intimidation of our providers and clients is common. Online attacks that close our Facebook or WhatsApp pages – as our Mexican team recently experienced – are on the increase.
All over the world, anti-choice mystery shoppers, posing as women seeking help, contact our clinics every week, wasting time and resources. In some countries, this black money funds networks of pregnancy assistance centers that target women seeking abortions with deceptive promises of help.
In countries where abortion is legally restricted, the stigma is massive and mortality from unsafe abortion is high. Misinformation from social media and lack of access to reproductive health and family planning information and services contribute to attitudes that block access to essential and, in some cases, life-saving medical procedures.
Women, wherever they are, will always seek access to abortion services. Globally, about a third of all pregnancies, or 121 million, end in abortion.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 45% of all abortions are unsafe, and most of them occur in low-income countries where legal restrictions, stigma and system challenges. health issues force women to risk their lives.
We know that restricting abortion does not reduce its prevalence. In countries that restrict abortion, the percentage of unwanted pregnancies ending in abortion has increased by 14% over the past 30 years, and abortion rates are higher than in countries where it is more accessible .
If women have access to abortion services, it is likely that they will also have better access to information and be more empowered to make their own choices.
With anti-choice groups in the United States backed by any potential Supreme Court victory, it is likely that organizations funding the global fight against abortion rights will redouble their efforts, with potentially deadly consequences for women. .
However, despite the efforts of a vocal minority who want to limit women’s reproductive rights, we see growing public support for reproductive rights every day.
This year, abortion was either decriminalized or legalized in strongly opposed countries, including Benin, Thailand, San Marino, Gibraltar and Mexico. These acts of hope and solidarity encourage our teams to do everything possible to make the choice possible for women.
Sarah Shaw is Advocacy Manager at MSI Reproductive Choices