June 24, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Abortion Undermines Public Health

The Harvard Global Health Institute is dedicated to health equity and social justice. We are also committed to individual autonomy and bodily integrity. Our belief in these core values does not stop at city, state, or country borders. As such, we believe it is critical in this moment to recognize the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court Decision today in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

We condemn the 6-3 ruling that rolls back decades of protections for those seeking safe reproductive health choices, that includes the right to terminate a pregnancy. Not only does this decision end reproductive freedoms in the U.S., it undermines public health and the right to privacy.

A women’s right to choose is a fundamental human right that is protected under numerous international and regional human rights treaties and national-level constitutions around the world. By grounding safe abortion within the rights to privacy, life, equality, and non-discrimination, human rights bodies have consistently recognized that restrictive abortion laws are incompatible with human rights.

970 million women live in countries that broadly allow abortion. This represents 59% of women of reproductive age. The United States is no longer part of the majority, and it will be left up to the states to decide who will be able to access safe reproductive healthcare. According to the World Health Organization, 23,000 women die of unsafe abortions each year and tens of thousands more experience significant health complications.

Today, we stand in solidarity with leaders of the reproductive rights movement as we continue the fight for health equity for all.