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

4. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada 

5. Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development of Canada

6. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada 

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 

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.”

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!”

11. Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium 

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 

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.


Demand Equity

'Devastating Blow': World Leaders React to US's Roe v. Wade Decision

By Leah Rodriguez