Global Women and UN Women Āotearoa New Zealand deeply criticise the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v Wade as a big step backwards, withdrawing 50 years of constitutional protections for abortion rights. The immediate reactions from some of our national leaders, world leaders and global health organisations who describe it “as a catastrophic blow to millions of women, girls and pregnant people” show how seriously the move is being taken.
The decision not only strips away rights for women but puts their health and safety at risk and will increase inequities in access and create an environment of fear, stigmatisation and criminalisation.
UN Women states, “reproductive rights are integral to women’s rights, a fact that is upheld by international agreements and reflected in law in different parts of the world. To be able to exercise their human rights and make essential decisions, women need to be able to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to information, education, and services.
When safe and legal access to abortion is restricted, women are forced to resort to less-safe methods, too often with damaging or disastrous results—especially for women who are affected by poverty or marginalisation, including minority women. The ability of women to control what happens to their own bodies is also associated with the role’s women are able to play in society, whether as a member of the family, the workforce, or government.”
Tara Singh, UN Women Āotearoa New Zealand President says “we are determined to continue to support the rights and freedom of women and girls here in Āotearoa and around the world. Now is the time for women to unite, continuing work in collaboration with our partners and men allies to achieve progress.”
Global Women believe the attack on women’s reproductive rights is the thin edge of the wedge. As politics across the globe remains highly masculinised, it is largely men in positions of power who are voting to restrict women’s bodily autonomy, so we need more male leaders to recognise their responsibility to act as allies to women. According to Theresa Gattung, Global Women Chair “the reversal of Roe v Wade puts many other rights that people take for granted at risk, including the right to contraception and gay rights, we should not take any rights for granted, social achievements are always at risk of being reversed and their defence has to be our everyday focus. Women must be able to decide freely about their lives.”