Several of the United States’ Western allies responded with anger and dismay after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, condemning the decision as “horrific,” “appalling” and “a big step backwards.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the move “clearly has a massive impact on people’s thinking around the world,” calling it “a very important decision.”
“I’ve got to tell you, I think it’s a big step backwards,” Johnson said at a press conference during a summit of Commonwealth leaders in Rwanda. “I’ve always believed in a woman’s right to choose and I stick to that view, and that’s why the UK has the laws that it does.”
The US is already home to some of the more restrictive abortion laws among its democratic allies in the G7 and other international alliances.
But Friday’s judgment isolated it further from much of the West on the issue of women’s reproductive health.
“The news coming out of the United States is horrific,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday. “My heart goes out to the millions of American women who are now set to lose their legal right to an abortion. I can’t imagine the fear and anger you are feeling right now.”
“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,” he added.
French President Emmanuel Macron also expressed “solidarity” with women in the US, and called abortion a “fundamental right for all women” soon after his Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna called the decision “appalling.”
And Spanish leader Pedro Sánchez said in a tweet: “We cannot take any right 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.”
Protests took place in front of the US Embassy in London on Friday evening, with other protests scheduled to take place across Europe over the weekend, including in Ireland, where a constitutional ban on abortion was overturned in 2018.
Until Friday, the US was one of 56 countries where abortion was legal on request, with no requirement for justification, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Going forward, abortion rights will be determined by US states, unless Congress acts. Already, nearly half of the states have or will pass laws that ban abortion while others have enacted strict measures regulating the procedure.
Prior to Friday’s decision the US was generally in the company of other Western nations, since few developed countries outright ban or heavily restrict access to abortions.
Of the 36 countries the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs defines as developed economies, all but two — Poland and Malta — allow abortions on request or on broad health and socio-economic grounds, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), which campaigns for improved access to abortion and monitors laws worldwide.
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