Legal, safe, timely and compassionate abortion care is an essential health service

Image: Protests at the US Supreme Court (Courtesy: Gayatri Malhotra, Unsplash)

Burnet Institute is deeply concerned and dismayed at the decision of the Supreme Court in the US over the weekend.

After almost 50 years, Roe v Wade has been overturned by the US Supreme Court – becoming one of only four countries in the last 25 years to remove protections for legal abortion and reproductive rights.

Safe abortion is already being banned in parts of the United States through planned trigger legislation, putting 40 million women and girls at risk.

Legal restriction of abortion does not lead to fewer abortions – it only makes abortion unsafe, with devastating impacts for girls, women and their families.

These impacts will be greatest on those who already face discrimination and barriers to accessing reproductive health care, further entrenching inequalities.

There is a potential for the US decision to have ripple effects – across Australia and into the Asia Pacific region.

Globally, almost 700 million women and girls live under restrictive abortion laws.

Of the more than 30 million unsafe abortions that happen every year, the majority occur in countries where safe abortion is criminalised.

In these settings, unsafe abortion remains one of the leading causes of maternal death.

Limiting girls’ and women’s access to essential reproductive health care and their right to make decisions about their own lives also risks reversing progress to achieve gender equality.

There is an urgent need to ensure that this does not happen – that safe abortion is supported and enabled, that all women and girls have reproductive health choices, and are free to make the decisions that are right for them.

Burnet Institute is committed to supporting the rights of women everywhere to bodily autonomy, and to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health – including safe abortion.

We call on the Australian government to be explicit in reassuring its people, and its partners and friends, that it will do all it can to protect the health and wellbeing of women and girls by ensuring their reproductive rights.

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