The anticipation of the US Supreme Court’s final decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and undo abortion protections did not quell the devastation and shock of reproductive rights advocates and allies globally.
With over 33 million women in the US now at risk of losing abortion access in their states and lawmakers having the right to pass laws that call for the prosecution of people seeking abortions, world leaders from Canada to New Zealand are showing solidarity and pledging to protect reproductive rights where they legislate and beyond.
On June 24, the decision following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case argued that the Constitution doesn’t guarantee the right to an abortion and paved the way for at least 20 states to ban the essential medical procedure. A draft opinion on the decision written by Justice Samuel Alito leaked on May 3, sparking global backlash and prompting some states to start rolling back abortion access before the Supreme Court announced an official verdict.
Heads of states, diplomats, and health officials issued statements and shared reactions to the news on social media following the announcement in solidarity with those who will be impacted by the new ban.
The news prompted leaders to remind the international community that the lack of access to safe and legal abortion disproportionately impacts women of color and people living in poverty. They urged citizens not to take their human rights for granted and stressed the implications of the decision on gender equality on a global level. Some warned that the decision will embolden anti-abortion rights movements everywhere and shared the fact that banning abortion doesn’t lead to fewer abortions, only more unsafe abortions.
Read the reactions to the Roe v. Wade decision from world leaders below, from the need to view abortion as a health care, to how access to reproductive health care enhances women and girls’ lives.
1. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand
"Watching the removal of a woman's fundamental right to make decisions over their own body is incredibly upsetting. Here in New Zealand we recently legislated to decriminalize abortion and treat it as a health rather than criminal issue. That change was grounded in the fundamental belief that it's a woman's right to choose. People are absolutely entitled to have deeply held convictions on this issue. But those personal beliefs should never rob another from making their own decisions. To see that principle now lost in the United States feels like a loss for women everywhere. When there are so many issues to tackle, so many challenges that face women and girls, we need progress, not to fight the same fights and move backwards,” Ardern said in a statement.
2. Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
"It's a very important decision. I've got to tell you, I think it's a big step backwards. I've always believed in a woman's right to choose and I stick to that view and that is why the UK has the laws that it does," he told a news conference at a Commonwealth summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
3. Emmanuel Macron, President of France
Abortion is a fundamental right for all women. It must be protected. I wish to express my solidarity with the women whose liberties are being undermined by the Supreme Court of the United States.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 24, 2022
4. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
No government, politician, or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. I want women in Canada to know that we will always stand up for your right to choose.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 24, 2022
5. Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development of Canada
Horrified. I am just sick to my stomach over the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.— Karina Gould (@karinagould) June 24, 2022
This is a devastating blow that overturns decades of progress on women’s rights.
6. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
My message to Canadian women and girls. pic.twitter.com/qvDY486Ywy— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) June 24, 2022
7. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
"Access to safe, legal and effective abortion is firmly rooted in international human rights law and is at the core of women and girls' autonomy and ability to make their own choices about their bodies and lives, free of discrimination, violence, and coercion. This decision strips such autonomy from millions of women in the US, in particular those with low incomes and those belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, to the detriment of their fundamental rights,” Bachelet told CBS.
8. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister
One of the darkest days for women’s rights in my lifetime. Obviously the immediate consequences will be suffered by women in the US - but this will embolden anti-abortion & anti-women forces in other countries too. Solidarity doesn’t feel enough right now - but it is necessary. https://t.co/T1656BPQuL— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) June 24, 2022
9. Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain
“We cannot take any rights for granted. Social achievements are always at risk of going backwards and their defense has to be our day to day. Women must be able to decide freely about their lives.”
No podemos dar por sentado ningún derecho. Las conquistas sociales siempre están en riesgo de retroceder y su defensa tiene que ser nuestro día a día.— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) June 24, 2022
Las mujeres deben poder decidir libremente sobre sus vidas. https://t.co/ujQJk1SPT0
10. Jonas Gahr, Prime Minister of Norway
“The right to abortion can either be banned or tightened in several US states after the US Supreme Court has now overturned the historic ruling from 1972 that surely American women have this right. This is a serious step backwards for women's rights!”
Retten til abort kan enten bli forbudt eller strammet inn i flere amerikanske delstater etter at USAs høyesterett nå har opphevet den historiske dommen fra 1972 som sikkert amerikanske kvinner denne retten. Det er et alvorlig tilbakeskritt for kvinners rettigheter!— Jonas Gahr Støre (@jonasgahrstore) June 24, 2022
11. Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium
Very concerned about implications of @USSupremeCourt decision on #RoeVWade and the signal it sends to the world.— Alexander De Croo 🇧🇪🇪🇺 (@alexanderdecroo) June 24, 2022
Banning abortion never leads to fewer abortions, only to more unsafe abortions.
Belgium will continue to work with other countries to advance #SRHR everywhere.
12. Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark
“My heart weeps for the girls and women of the USA. A huge setback. The right to a free abortion is one of the most fundamental rights there is. We must never compromise the unrestricted right of women to decide over their own bodies and future,” Frederiksen wrote on Facebook.
13. Magdalena Andersson, Prime Minister of Sweden
The right to legal and safe abortion is fundamental. To deprive women of their individual choice is a serious reversion of the protection of rights and health. Yesterday was a giant step back for girls and women in the US.— SwedishPM (@SwedishPM) June 25, 2022
14. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization
“I am very disappointed, because women’s rights must be protected. And I would have expected America to protect such rights," Dr. Tedros told Reuters at a Commonwealth summit in Rwanda.