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US abortion verdict sparks global debate, polarizes activists

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The end of constitutional protections for abortions in the United States on Friday has polarized activists around the world, encouraging abortion opponents, even as abortion rights advocates feared it could disrupt the recent steps towards 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 it will strengthen 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 Larín, president of Fundación 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 now come 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, saying: “We were one step ahead and now we need to take five steps back.”

Meanwhile, the decision brightened social media across Argentina, where a law legalizing elective abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy came into effect in January 2021 after years of debate.

Anti-abortion activists cheered Friday’s ruling, while lawmaker Amalia Granata tweeted: “Justice is back in the world. We will also achieve this in Argentina!!’

Meanwhile, 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, the ruling could inspire further efforts to lift abortion restrictions. to relax. Outside the US

“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.

The UN agency dealing with sexual and reproductive health says 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, noting that the 2022 report shows 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 a leading cause of maternal death,” UNFPA said.

The agency said nearly all unsafe abortions currently take place in developing countries, and it fears “there will be more unsafe abortions around the world 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 from weeks 22, or when a doctor determines a fetus is viable, with the sole exception if a woman’s life is in danger. The bill is now before the island’s House of Representatives.

dr. Migna Rivera García, 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; AP journalists around the world contributed to this report.

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