One year ago, UN human rights experts issued a powerful statement condemning the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, declaring – in no uncertain terms – that in doing so, the United States had violated fundamental, internationally recognized human rights, and “completely disregarded [its] binding legal obligations under international law, including those stemming from its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
The experts urged the US- at state and national level- to adhere to its international commitments to “respect and uphold women’s human rights to life, health, equality and non-discrimination, privacy and freedom from violence, torture, and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” – all implicated in the right to access safe and legal abortion. Today, the United States has still not upheld its international commitments, and the fight for legal equality in the United States still continues.
As more and more US states move to ban or severely restrict abortion, women, girls, and other pregnant people are bearing the devastating, real-life consequences of the 2022 Supreme Court decision. This includes the thousands of women and girls in the United States who have been forced to leave their homes and travel to other states to obtain a safe and legal abortion, the patients who have been denied critical health care for cancer and other life-threatening diseases, the women turned away from hospitals following miscarriage, those forced to give birth to a child with fatal fetal abnormalities, and the untold number of women and girls – including rape and incest survivors – who have had to endure forced pregnancy and motherhood because they could not overcome the many barriers put in place after abortion care was banned in their state. The right to access safe and legal abortion is based on fundamental, internationally recognized human rights, including the right to autonomy and non-discrimination. These human rights are violated when US courts and/or politicians deny pregnant women and girls access to reproductive health care, subject them to unnecessarily cruel and degrading treatment, and deny them the right to make their own decisions about their bodies, their lives, and their futures. The US has an obligation to respect and uphold the human rights of all people, including women, girls, LGBTQ+ people, low-income people and racial and ethnic minorities. When access to abortion is stripped away, it fails that duty.
The US must reverse course, adhere to its international commitments, and restore reproductive rights at state and national level. The world is watching. And it matters!