WASHINGTON: Friday’s decision by the US Supreme Court which overturns the 50-year-old Roe vs Wade judgement guaranteeing access to abortion across the United States, is being described by the UN experts as “a huge blow to women’s human rights and gender equality.”
The top court’s decision to eliminate the universal right to abortion is a watershed moment in US history.
The widely anticipated Supreme Court decision, by six votes to three, was made in the specific case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a historic decision which returns all questions of legality and access to abortion, to the individual states.
UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement described this decision was a “major setback” for sexual and reproductive health across the US.
“The US Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization delivered today represents a major setback after five decades of protection for sexual and reproductive health and rights in the US through Roe v Wade. It is a huge blow to women’s human rights and gender equality,” Bachelet said.
“Access to safe, legal and effective abortion is firmly rooted in international human rights law and is at the core of women and girls’ autonomy and ability to make their own choices about their bodies and lives, free of discrimination, violence and coercion,” she added.
UN human rights experts denounced a shocking and dangerous decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to strike down a nearly fifty-year-old legal precedent that has protected women’s right to choose to have an abortion, describing it as a serious regression of an existing right that will jeopardize women’s health and lives.
“Today, with the stroke of a pen and without sound legal reasoning, the Supreme Court of the United States has stripped women, girls and all persons capable of becoming pregnant in the country, of existing legal protections that are necessary to ensure their ability to determine the course of their lives and to live with dignity,” they said.
According to the UN experts, the Supreme Court has completely disregarded the United States’ binding legal obligations under international human rights law, including those stemming from its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which protects a woman’s right to life from the harmful impact of abortion restrictions.
Legal protections for abortion access and abortion rights have been established under international law as a matter of ensuring women’s ability to enjoy their legally protected human rights to life, health, equality and non-discrimination, privacy, freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and to ensure their freedom from gender-based violence.
The UN experts said the right of a woman to make autonomous decisions about her own body and reproductive functions is at the very core of her fundamental right to equality and privacy, concerning intimate matters of physical and psychological integrity. Experts noted that access to legal abortion is essential health care and pivotal to women’s enjoyment of a full spectrum of their human rights.
The right to make autonomous decisions about the termination of a pregnancy must be supported by equitable access to dignified care, trained healthcare workers and accurate information, they said.
Countries, where access to abortion is decriminalized or legal and contraception is widely available, have the lowest rates of maternal mortality. According to the World Health Organization, abortion is a common procedure with 6 out of 10 unintended pregnancies ending in induced abortion globally.
“An estimated 45 per cent of these abortions are unsafe. Restrictive laws do not reduce the individual need for abortion but are likely to increase the number of women and girls seeking clandestine and unsafe abortions,” according to UN experts.
They say this fuels abortion stigma, and lead to the abuse of women in need of post-abortion care and their incarceration. The stigma also affects healthcare workers who face the threat of violence in the execution of their expertise. (ANI)