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Picture: 123RF/Prometeus
Picture: 123RF/Prometeus

The implications of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe vs Wade are grave, as it could set a dangerous precedent when one of the most powerful countries in the world seeks to curtail women’s sexual and reproductive rights.

Considering the influence of the US in the global public health sphere and other sociopolitical issues, we should be worried that decades of advocacy and activism can be reversed when those in power do not see women as autonomous beings. The reversal of Roe v Wade would mark the removal of a woman's right to decide what to do with her body, and therefore her human rights. 

SA’s Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act ensures legal protection of the right to abortion. However, much of the funding in the public sector still comes from the US and therefore — beyond the “global gag rule”, which prohibits foreign nongovernmental organisations that receive US global health assistance from providing legal abortion services — this current regression will endanger its implementation further. 

The African region has not recovered from decades of enforcement of the global gag rule. We know from experience and not-so-distant history what is at stake. When abortions are made illegal and the laws are hostile, stigma and discrimination become entrenched. Making abortions illegal does not stop them; they only become more unsafe.  

The Soul City Institute for Social Justice stands firm in its support for autonomy and will continue advocating for the rights of girls, women and all people who can get pregnant to choose their pregnancy outcome. 

Phinah Kodisang, CEO, Soul City Institute for Social Justice

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