San Juan, Puerto Rico –
The end of constitutional protections for abortions in the United States on Friday encouraged abortion opponents around the world, while abortion rights advocates feared it could threaten recent moves toward legalization in their country.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s quashing of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision “shows that these kinds of rights are always at risk of being smeared,” said Ruth Zurbriggen, an Argentine activist and member of the Companion Network of Latin America and the Caribbean. , a group that advocates abortion rights.
But in El Salvador, anti-abortion activist Sara Larin expressed hope that the ruling will bolster campaigns against the procedure around the world.
“I trust that with this ruling it will be possible to abolish abortion in the United States and around the world,” said Larin, president of Fundacion Vida SV.
In Kenya, Phonsina Archane watched news of Friday’s ruling and said she froze in panic for a while.
“This is being done in America, which should be an example when it comes to the women’s rights movement,” said Archane, an abortion rights activist. “If this happens in America, what about me here in Africa? It’s a very, very sad day.”
She feared the ruling will encourage abortion opponents across Africa who have plunged into reproductive health clinics or threatened attacks. “There is no safe place on the continent,” she said.
Abortion in sub-Saharan Africa is already less safe than in any other region of the world, and the vast majority of women of childbearing age live in countries where abortion laws are severely or moderately restricted, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a new in York City established research organization that supports abortion rights.
Archane said civil society organizations in Africa will need to work together to develop strategies to keep themselves and women safe. Just months ago, many saw hope when the World Health Organization issued guidelines for quality abortion care, she said. “We were one step ahead and now we have to take five steps back.”
The decision, which leaves it to lawmakers in the individual U.S. state to decide whether to allow or ban abortion, lit up social media across Argentina, where a law legalizing elective abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy in January 2021 was followed. years into effect. of debate.
Anti-abortion activists cheered the ruling, while lawmaker Amalia Granata tweeted: “Justice is back in the world. We will also achieve that in Argentina!!’
In more conservative countries like El Salvador, where abortion is illegal under all circumstances and where some 180 women with obstetric emergencies have been prosecuted over the past two decades, Larin warned the ruling could lead to further efforts to push abortion restrictions outside of the home. EU to relax. U.S
“Campaigns promoting abortion may increase in our countries as funding and abortion clinics in the United States close, as they have in recent years,” she said.
In the Vatican, the head of the Pontifical Academy of Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, joined the American bishops in saying that it is a time for reflection, healing of wounds and dialogue with the citizen.
“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 Veronica Cruz said the ruling could give a boost to anti-abortion groups, but added it likely won’t have an impact in Mexico, where 10 of the country’s 32 states have abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. legalized in recent years. year.
She noted that the ruling could lead to an increase in requests for help from American women who want to have an abortion in Mexico or buy pills to interrupt pregnancies in Mexican pharmacies.
So far this year, local activists have accompanied some 1,500 American women who have traveled to Mexico for those purposes, Cruz said.
Ricardo Cano, of the anti-abortion group National Front for Life, also doubts the ruling will have any impact in Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America, given the rise of leftist ideologies in the region.
Colombia, which in February became the last Latin American country to expand access to abortion, will also not be affected by the ruling, said Catalina Martinez Coral, director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Prior to US President Joe Biden’s trip abroad, the heads of at least two Group of Seven members called the decision “horrifying”.
“No government, politician or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, adding that he “must experience the fear and anger” women in the US must experience in the aftermath of the ruling.
The UN agency dealing with sexual and reproductive health said legal or not “it happens all too often” and global data shows restricting access makes abortion more deadly.
The United Nations Population Fund released a statement following the Supreme Court’s decision, stating that the 2022 report states that nearly half of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended and that more than 60% of those pregnancies could end in abortion.
“A staggering 45% of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, making it one of the leading causes of maternal death,” the agency said.
It said nearly all unsafe abortions take place in developing countries, and it fears “more unsafe abortions will occur worldwide as access to abortion becomes more restricted”.
In the only part of Latin America directly affected by the ruling, Puerto Rico, the island’s Senate passed a bill on Tuesday banning abortion after 22 weeks or when a doctor determines a fetus is viable, with the one exception that a woman’s life is in danger. The bill is now before the island’s House of Representatives.
dr. Migna Rivera Garcia, president of the Association of Psychologists of Puerto Rico, said the US Supreme Court ruling has prompted abortion rights activists to reframe their strategy.
“It’s causing a lot of uncertainty given the environment in Puerto Rico right now,” she said. “This bill hurts poor women and black women the most. … They don’t have access to services like other social groups.”
Anna reported from Nairobi, Kenya. Associated Press writers Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Mark German in San Salvador, El Salvador; Edith Leaders at the United Nations; Fabiola Sanchez in Mexico City; Frances D’Emilio in Rome; Astrid Suarez in Bogota, Colombia, and AP journalists around the world contributed to this report