World leaders reacted with a mixture of praise and concern after a leaked draft opinion signaled the Supreme Court might overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
Some liberal politicians sounded the alarm on what they said will be a crippling reduction in women’s rights, while anti-abortion politicos welcomed the news, suggesting the overturn of the nearly 50-year precedent could help roll back legislation in their own countries.
“The right to choose is a woman’s right and a woman’s right alone. Every woman in Canada has a right to a safe and legal abortion. We’ll never back down from protecting and promoting women’s rights in Canada and around the world,” tweeted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon echoed the sentiment, saying the “right of women to decide what happens to our own bodies is a human right.”
“Experience tells us that removing the legal right to abortion doesn’t stop abortions happening – it just makes them unsafe and puts the lives of women at much greater risk,” Sturgeon tweeted.
The right of women to decide what happens to our own bodies is a human right. And experience tells us that removing the legal right to abortion doesn’t stop abortions happening – it just makes them unsafe and puts the lives of women at much greater risk #RoeVWade
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 3, 2022
Abortions are permitted under law within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy in England, Scotland, and Wales, though two doctors must sign off on it, attesting that the baby would pose a greater risk to the physical or mental health of the woman than the abortion.
In France, Julien Bargeto, a senator representing Paris and a member of French President Emmanuel Macron’s party, La Republique En Marche!, urged “progressives everywhere” to mobilize. Under French law, abortions are legal up until the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, as the legal timeframe was extended by two weeks earlier this year.
Other European politicians applauded the news. David Kurten, leader of the conservative Heritage Party in the United Kingdom, said the decision would save “the lives of millions of unborn children every year in the USA.”
In Spain, Lourdes Mendez, a lawmaker who represents Vox, a conservative political party, questioned if a decision in the U.S. on abortion could help her country come to realize that “abortion has been a mistake from the beginning and declare its unconstitutionality.” Abortion is legal in Spain up to 14 weeks of pregnancy and then in cases of serious health risks.
Though the unprecedented leak of the draft, first reported by Politico, has sparked international abortion discussions, a decision still remains to be seen, as the Supreme Court has not issued its final ruling.
If Roe is overturned, the United States would join three other countries that have rolled back abortion access since 1994, including Poland, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Fifty-nine other countries have expanded abortion rights during that time period, one of the most recent being Ireland.