Activist countries

Global abortion rights advocates fear their country could be next if Roe falls

The concerns highlight not only the long reach of US health systems policy far beyond the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, but also the precarious state of abortion policies in governments around the world.

“We know the impact of this decision will have a ripple effect,” said Bethany Van Kampen Saravia, senior legal and policy adviser at the nonprofit Ipas, who took part in the meetings with colleagues around the world. . “The United States has outsized influence…Countries seeking to liberalize their laws – they may think twice after this decision.”

While administration officials wouldn’t comment on a particular closed meeting, they said they’ve met regularly with abortion rights advocates — including those from other countries — since POLITICO announced a reported for the first time deer court’s draft opinion.

In the meetings, the defenders urged to support the Abortion law is health care everywhereVan Kampen Saravia said, who added that the conversations included officials from USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, the HHS Bureau of Global Affairs, and the State Department‘s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration — as well than representatives. Jan Schakowski (D-Ill.) and Barbara Lee (D-California).

The legislation would allow US foreign aid funds to be used for abortion, which is currently illegal under the Helms Amendment – ​​although there is no clear path for the switch to Congress. The group called on administration officials to explicitly communicate what kinds of abortion-related care and information would be allowed in U.S.-funded programs, as well as to encourage more widespread abortion services. , said Van Kampen Saravia.

The US abortion rights movement has driven changes to laws in other countries, activists said, and if the Supreme Court overturns deerthis momentum could change.

“The United States is becoming a kind of inspiration for conservative movements – and conservative forces in the United States have a stronghold in Latin America and around the world,” said María Antonieta Alcalde Castro, director of Ipas in America Central and Mexico. “It’s very worrying for the whole region.”

Anti-abortion activists have raised new funds after the court’s draft notice was released, along with the benefit of using winning strategies in the US elsewhere around the world, abortion rights advocates fear . Two global anti-abortion groups did not respond to requests for comment.

“It creates a political trend that is followed by resources and by political forces, and we are already feeling it,” said Alcalde Castro. “This type of rhetoric that we saw in Texas, we see, like, cut-and-paste in Mexico, cut-and-paste in Nicaragua. So there is clearly a trend there.

And the concerns go beyond Latin America.

“My colleagues in Europe are really concerned about what is happening in the United States because, as you may know, especially in Eastern European countries, there are attempts to roll back “, said Susan Yanow, spokesperson for the American branch of Women Help Women. , a global non-profit organization working to improve access to abortion medication and information. “And it’s a huge concern that countries with less democratic governments – and now I’m going to put the United States in this column – are falling back, and the United States is taking the lead.”

Activists said they have seen politicians back home use the risks of a backlash from the United States to argue – often convincingly – for tighter restrictions on abortion.

Still, others see the decision as a way to start a global conversation.

“Agenda setting works in all directions,” said Giselle Carino, director and CEO of Fos Feminista, a global feminist and abortion rights group. “The United States is playing a leadership role and definitely setting an agenda. For example, with Black Lives Matter last year, where the whole world was talking about racism all of a sudden, and it was just fabulous.

Many leaders and activists still see the United States as a major player on the global agenda, especially when it comes to global health.

The United States – no matter how deer is perceived by other governments — will remain a powerful major donor in global health. Although official US policies have long restricted access to abortions abroad, the reversal of deer could increase political pressure to align with current US policies on abortion in countries dependent on US aid.

In countries where US aid represents a large share of the health budget, the need for stable funding may outweigh political proposals.

“Sometimes they don’t even have to say anything,” Pansi Katenga, Ipas’ global development director, told reporters at a conference on the global impact of the court ruling. “People are afraid to annoy [the] UNITED STATES”

The influence of the United States on abortions abroad is also more direct. For decades, the so-called Mexico City Rule has prevented nongovernmental organizations that receive US funds from promoting or practicing abortion as a method of family planning.

In January 2021, the Biden administration revoked the rule.

However, other policies remain in effect. The Helms Amendment prevents the use of foreign aid funds to perform or induce abortions, although it does not prohibit information about all pregnancy options, in accordance with local laws.

And while campaigners have said they don’t expect the court’s ruling to lead to instant legislation in other countries, they believe a ruling reversing deer will make their job much more difficult – whether because of an emboldened anti-abortion movement or pressure to follow current US policy to maintain its aid funding.

“We are really, you know, at this crossroads where we will see the reversal of Roe vs. Wadesaid Van Kampen Saravia. “This is an issue that can no longer be ignored.”