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Abortion Ruling Sparks Global Debate, Polarizes Activists | New

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The end of constitutional abortion protections in the United States on Friday emboldened abortion opponents around the world, while abortion rights advocates feared it could threaten recent moves towards legalization in their countries.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturns landmark Roe v. wade “shows that these kinds of rights are still at risk of being violated,” said Ruth Zurbriggen, an Argentine activist and member of the Companion Network of Latin America and the Caribbean, an abortion rights group.

But in El Salvador, anti-abortion activist Sara Larín expressed hope that the ruling will bolster campaigns against the procedure around the world.

“I hope that with this decision it will be possible to abolish abortion in the United States and in the world,” said Larín, president of Fundación Vida SV.

In Kenya, Phonsina Archane watched the news of Friday’s decision and said she stood frozen for a while in a state of panic.

“It’s being done in America, which should be an example when it comes to the women’s rights movement,” said Archane, an abortion rights activist. “If this is happening in America, what about me here in Africa? It’s a very, very sad day.

She feared the ruling would embolden abortion opponents across Africa who have charged reproductive health clinics or threatened attacks. “There is no safe place on the continent,” she said.

Abortion in sub-Saharan Africa is already more dangerous than in any other region of the world, and the overwhelming majority of women of childbearing age live in countries with heavily or moderately restricted abortion laws, according to the Guttmacher Institute. , a New York-based research organization that supports abortion rights.

Archane said civil society groups in Africa will need to come together to strategize on how to protect themselves and women. Just a few months ago, many saw hope when the World Health Organization released guidelines on quality abortion care, she said. “We had a head start, and now we have to take five steps back.”

The ruling, which leaves lawmakers in each US state to decide whether to allow or ban abortions, has lit up social media across Argentina, where a law legalizing elective abortion until the 14th week gestation entered into force in January 2021 after years of debate.

Anti-abortion activists applauded the decision, with lawmaker Amalia Granata tweeting: “There is justice in the world again. We will also achieve this in Argentina! »

In more conservative countries like El Salvador, where abortions are illegal under any circumstances and where some 180 women with obstetric emergencies have been criminally prosecuted over the past two decades, Larín warned the ruling could inspire further more efforts to ease restrictions on abortion outside the US

“Abortion advocacy campaigns are likely to intensify in our countries as funding and abortion clinics in the United States will close as they have in recent years,” she said.

At the Vatican, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, joined the American bishops in saying that this is a time for reflection, healing of wounds and civil dialogue.

“The fact that a great country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position on this issue also concerns the whole world.” says the academy.

In Mexico, lawyer and activist Verónica Cruz said the ruling could give anti-abortion groups a boost, but added it would likely have no impact in Mexico where 10 of the country’s 32 states have legalized abortion up to 12 weeks gestation lately. years.

She noted that the decision could lead to increased calls for help from American women seeking abortions in Mexico or buying pills to terminate a pregnancy at Mexican pharmacies.

So far this year, local activists have accompanied some 1,500 American women who have traveled to Mexico for these purposes, Cruz said.

Ricardo Cano, of the anti-abortion group National Front for Life, also doubts the decision will have an impact in Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America, given the advance of left-wing ideologies in the region.

Colombia, which in February became the latest Latin American country to expand access to abortion, will also not be affected by the decision, said Catalina Martínez Coral, director for Latin America and the Caribbean. from the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Ahead of US President Joe Biden’s trip abroad, the heads of at least two members of the Group of Seven called the decision “horrific”.

“No government, politician or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, adding that he “cannot imagine the fear and the anger” that women in the United States must feel in the aftermath of the judgment.

The UN sexual and reproductive health agency says whether abortion is legal or not, “it happens too often” and global data shows that restricting access makes abortion more deadly .

The United Nations Population Fund issued a statement following the Supreme Court’s ruling noting that its 2022 report indicated that almost half of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended and that more than 60 % of these pregnancies may end in abortion.

“A staggering 45% of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, making it one of the leading causes of maternal death,” the agency said.

He said almost all unsafe abortions occur in developing countries, and he fears “more unsafe abortions will occur around the world if access to abortion becomes more restricted.”

In the only part of Latin America directly affected by the ruling, Puerto Rico, the island’s Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would ban abortions after 22 weeks or when a doctor determines a fetus is viable. , with the only exception if a woman’s life is in danger. The bill is now before the Island’s House of Representatives.

Dr. Migna Rivera García, president of the Association of Psychologists of Puerto Rico, said the US Supreme Court ruling has prompted abortion rights activists to reframe their strategy.

“It causes a lot of uncertainty given the current environment in Puerto Rico,” she said. “This bill hurts poor women and black women the most. … They don’t have access to services like other social groups.

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Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Associated Press writers Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Marcos Alemán in San Salvador, El Salvador; Edith Lederer at the United Nations; Fabiola Sanchez in Mexico City; Frances D’Emilio in Rome; Astrid Suárez in Bogotá, Colombia, and AP journalists around the world contributed to this report