Dissenting justices: U.S. an ‘international outlier’ on global abortion progress
Friday’s landmark ruling on abortion rights in the United States, one that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling to protect abortion access at the federal level, saw three U.S. Supreme Court justices dissent. And in that dissent, they noted how the U.S. reversal runs counter to abortion legislation in the developing world.
“More than 50 countries around the world—in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe—have expanded access to abortion in the past 25 years,” the dissent document said. “In light of that worldwide liberalization of abortion laws, it is American States that will become international outliers after today.”
Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor said the U.S. reversal, anticipated since a Supreme Court opinion draft was leaked in May, was not based on any factual or legal development that warrants its support.
“It continues to be true that … a woman, not the government, should choose whether she will bear the burdens of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting,” they added.
Individual African nations do continue to have highly restrictive abortion laws, with 92% of women of childbearing age who live in sub-Saharan Africa found in the 43 countries with highly or moderately restrictive laws.
A 2020 Guttmacher Institute report adds the African Union’s Maputo Protocol, adopted in 2003 with the majority of nations entering into the agreement, remains the continent’s only human rights document to outline criteria for abortion access.
Abortion remains completely prohibited in Egypt, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Congo Brazzaville, and Madagascar, according to the latest map updates from the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The center, based in the U.S. with an office in Nairobi, now has changed that map again as the U.S. itself becomes one of only four nations it identifies as rolling back abortion rights in the last 25 years.
Image: International Planned Parenthood Federation file