When I received the July 8/July 15th issue (p. 14) of “The Week” magazine, I was most struck by the article on page 14 that relayed how the recent Roe v. Wade reversal is viewed by the rest of the world. There’s no question that a woman’s decision to have a child–whether intentional or unintentional—is probably the biggest economic decision that female will ever face.
It’s pretty powerful. Here it is:
How They See Us: U.S. Rolls Back Women’s Human Rights
By reversing Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical conservative majority has delivered “a profound and ominous setback” for women’s rights”—and for democracy, said The Irish Times in an editorial. Even though more than 60% of Americans believe abortion should be legal “in all or most circumstances,” the court’s life-tenure far-right justices have now cleared the way for abortion bans to take effect in about half of the 50 states.
The U.S. thus joins Catholic El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Poland as the only countries to roll back abortion rights in decades. Some European countries, it’s true, restrict abortion at 12 or 16 weeks, earlier than Roe, but we also have largely free health care, so in practice, European women have easy access to abortion. Here in Ireland, the procedure was legalized by a referendum in 2018, spurred by the 2012 death of Savita Halappanavar, who was denied the abortion that would have saved her life as she miscarried an unviable, wanted pregnancy. Halappanavar died in an Irish hospital as her husband begged doctors to help her. The U.S. has doomed itself to a future of similar tragedies.
For any European who has ever been pregnant, said Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett in The Guardian (U.K.), the news from America “felt visceral, as vicious misogyny often does.” Pregnancy is a wholesale takeover of the body. I wanted my child, but having been through it, I know that forced birth would “amount to torture.” American women and girls, henceforth, will suffer, and at the explicit direction of the state. But not all of them, said Marius Oprea in Mediafax (Romania). Most rich women will still get the care they need, even if they have to travel out of state. But poor—especially Black, women—will either have unwanted children or try to self-abort. The U.S. health care system “is utterly unprepared” for the wave of abandoned newborns and mothers in crisis. Expect a health crisis of “apocalyptic proportions.”
The ruling is further evidence of America’s “democratic collapse,” said Le Monde (France). The extremist Catholic majority on the court is the product of “the tyranny of a minority permitted by an electoral system outrageously favorable to the most conservative states.” Donald Trump was defeated in the popular vote, yet became president anyway. He then nominated 3 ultraconservative justices who were confirmed by a Senate whose makeup is permanently skewed to favor rural voters at the expense of the Democratic majority.
President Biden often talks of a world at war “between democracies and autocracies,” said Mariam Martinez-Bascuan in “El Pais” (Spain), “but we can no longer be sure the U.S. is in the former camp.”The repeal of Roe is just the latest example of Republican “obstinacy,” from the Jan. 6th assault on the Capitol to the “dying rage over firearms” and efforts to restrict the Black vote. And like the other examples, the abortion ruling will surely hurt America’s standing in the world. How can the U.S. pose as the beacon of freedom against the authoritarian darkness of Russia or China, when it denies its own female citizens their basic human rights?”