World reacts to US abortion ruling: A big step backwards

Demonstrators gather to rally and protest at Copley Square in Boston on June 24, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Supreme Court's historic end to nationwide abortion rights on Friday (June 24) drew unusual criticism from some of America's closest allies and bucks a global trend to more liberal reproductive rights.

The decision came a day after the Supreme Court also struck down some of the modest restrictions on guns - an issue that, along with the US embrace of the death penalty, has long shocked other Western nations.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson - a Conservative who worked closely with former president Donald Trump, whose judicial nominations paved the way for Friday's decision - said the Supreme Court decision would have "massive impacts" worldwide.

"I think it's a big step backwards. I've always believed in a woman's right to choose, and I stick to that view, and that's why the UK has the laws that it does," Mr Johnson said on a visit to Rwanda.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the decision across the border as "horrific".

"No government, politician or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body," Mr Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron voiced his "solidarity with women whose freedoms are today challenged" by the US Supreme Court, while Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said legal and safe abortion was a fundamental right.

"Depriving women of their individual rights is a backlash against decades of hard-fought work," Ms Linde said.

Among the few world leaders who may be heartened by the ruling is Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, an ally of Mr Trump and his own country's evangelical Christians, who took to Twitter hours before the decision to denounce an 11-year-old girl's abortion of a fetus that was the result of rape.

US President Joe Biden himself deplored that the top court has "made the United States an outlier among developed nations in the world", as he vowed to keep up efforts to secure legal abortion.

Mr Biden made his remarks on the eve of flying to a summit in Germany, which just Friday repealed a Nazi-era law that limited the information that doctors and clinics could provide about abortion.

Remote video URL

And US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a point of stressing in a statement Friday night that his agency remained "fully committed" to helping provide access to reproductive health services both around the world and among its employees.

Traditionally Catholic Ireland overturned an abortion ban in a 2018 referendum and Latin America, long a stronghold against abortion, has also been moving to liberalise its laws.

Colombia in February legalised abortion up to 24 weeks into pregnancy, and Chile shortly afterward said it would enshrine the decriminalisation of abortion in its Constitution. Mexico last year had its own historic Supreme Court decision, declaring the prohibition of abortion unconstitutional.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.