The right to access abortion, as part of the full spectrum of reproductive and sexual health services, is fundamental to health equity. That right is currently under attack globally. For over 50 years in the U.S., the right of pregnant people to make private decisions about carrying pregnancies to term was protected via the landmark court case Roe w. Wade. In overturning it in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision last week, the U.S. Supreme Court has effectively denied pregnant people the constitutional right to an abortion. Abortion is poised to be illegal or highly restricted in 22 U.S. states and counting.
Abortion bans have proven ineffective at reducing abortion rates but highly effective at endangering the rights and health of women and people who can get pregnant. Evidence shows that criminalizing abortion drives up pregnancy-related deaths; threatens both access and willingness to seek care for those experiencing obstetric emergencies and miscarriages; lowers the rates of women with unintended pregnancies accessing prenatal care and having healthy babies; and causes profound psychosocial distress. Especially at risk are those who have been historically marginalized, including people of color, those living in poverty, and those living in rural areas.
Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling is likely to hinder efforts to legalize and increase access to safe abortion around the world. In Sub-Saharan Africa, abortion is already less safe and accessible than anywhere else in the world. Globally, unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal mortality.
As a team and community of leaders spanning the U.S., East and Southern Africa, and beyond, Global Health Corps is committed to protecting and advancing access to safe abortion as part of the full spectrum of reproductive and sexual health services. Safe abortion access and bodily autonomy are fundamental to achieving health equity, which has been the shared north star of our diverse community since GHC’s founding in 2009.
To learn more and support organizations on the frontlines of protecting abortion access, check out some resources here and here.