From Europe to America, from Asia to Africa: women's rights are under attack. We say it as daughters, mothers and sisters. Today, every single woman on this planet is fighting (or at least, she should) to defend the freedom of choice on abortion.
According to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito circulated inside the court and obtained by POLITICO, the Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
In the USA, since 1973, the right to access the practice of abortion has been guaranteed by the Roe v. Wade case, that demonstrates how laws banning abortion were a violation of the right to privacy. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who successfully fought against gender discrimination, put it simply: "The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman's life, to her wellbeing and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices."
The right to abortion is one of the most deeply-felt political consensus points of contention in the United States, to the point that it is one of the topics always discussed in election campaigns. 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 for women, will fall and have a ripple effect. 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.
If Roe v. Wade falls, abortion will be returned to the states for regulation, and it is likely that about half the states will immediately ban abortion. 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.
If Roe v. Wade falls, the outcome will change forever the integrity of access to abortion as a constitutional right.
The consequences, however, will not be just an American problem. If the Supreme Court overturn the Roe v. Wade case, this would likely embolden global anti-abortion activists and politicians all around the world. The United States, in fact, is still considered a model to follow and an ally who should not be contradicted. Therefore changes to laws on this topic could put the right to abortion in question in many other countries.
On our continent, and in other parts of the world, the situation already isn't 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, where 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 because a person's right was denied, it then becomes an instance of pervasive physical and psychological violence, capable of leaving an aftermath of pain often neglected 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