From Europe to America, from Asia to Africa: women's rights are under attack. We say it as daughters, mothers and sisters. And all the world's leading women who fight to defend the freedom of choice on abortion say it as well. At the forefront, there are the American activists who await the ruling of the United States Supreme Court. The Court is indeed preparing for the hearing of Dobbs v. Jackson's Women's Health Organization, the outcome will change forever the integrity of access to abortion as a constitutional right.
In the USA, since 1973, the right to access the practice of abortion has been guaranteed by the Roe v. Wade, that demonstrates how laws banning abortion were a violation of the right to privacy. However, the Supreme Court is now dealing with the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi state law that banned abortion operations after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.
It is the judges who examine the law, that prohibits the termination of pregnancy after 15 weeks of gestation, and declare whether it is constitutional. If so, the consequences for women’s freedom will be severe - in the United States and beyond.
The right to abortion is one of the most deeply-felt political consensus hubs in the United States, to the point that it is one of the topics always discuss in election campaigns. The sentence, therefore, could be issued with the intention of ingratiating the broad anti-abortionist consensus that calls for the dismissal of Roe v. Wade. In the last 30 years, the right to abortion has been progressively eroded in practice and the fear is that the law, the last shield of protection for women, will fall and adapt. In as many as 22 American States there are laws that in the absence of Roe v. Wade could abolish or make the right to abortion inaccessible.
The consequences, however, will not be just an American problem. The United States, in fact, is still taken as a model to follow and an ally not to be contradicted. Therefore changes to laws on this topic could question the right to abortion in many other countries. On our continent, and in other parts of the world, the situation is already not great. The right to abortion has already been questioned in several legislatures, as in the emblematic case of Poland. You may all remember the story of Izabela Sajbor, a young polish woman left to die because doctors, in compliance with the new anti-abortion law, preferred to wait for the natural death of the fetus rather than practice a life-saving abortion.
The situation is not only critical in Poland, where de facto abortion has become illegal. But also in other parts of Europe, from Italy to Ireland, and even in our country, women find it hard to have their rights recognized.
Pregnancy itself is an event with important connotations and consequences. It lasts 9 months of a life span and promises notable physical and psychological changes. If it occurs as a choice it is a determination of the self. If it happened as an expression of a rights' denial it then becomes a pervasive physical and psychological violence, capable of leaving aftermath and pain often not even considered by health systems.
Abortion is never easy. Never. Anyone who chooses to do so experiences an extremely painful moment, even when it is the correct (and desired) decision. Nonetheless, no woman should be forbidden to decide. No woman should be forced to become pregnant and no woman should, under any circumstances, be put at risk. Never.
Credit photo: Gettyimages
Written by Miriam Tagini