On Friday, the United States Supreme Court overturned the historic 1973 'Roe v Wade' ruling on the right to abortion, ending federal abortion protections. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo immediately reaffirmed that the country will continue to protect reproductive rights.
The ruling means that all US states will now be able to draft their own abortion laws, with the expectation that abortion will become illegal in about half of the American states – essentially taking away women's rights to decide over their own bodies.
In the Supreme Court, which is dominated by conservatives, five of the nine justices voted to end the US federal right to abortion, following a strict abortion law in the southern state of Mississippi.
After almost 50 years, the decision abolishes the constitutional right to abortion, leaving it up to the individual States to determine if abortion remains allowed and if so, under what circumstances. A number of Republican states are already in the process of banning or severely curtailing the right.
Legacy of Trump
The five conservative judges who voted to overturn abortion rights were Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Barrett – of whom the last three were all appointed by former Republican US President Donald Trump.
The three more liberal judges in the Court, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan voted against. John Roberts, the President of the Court, is also said to have voted against.
In May, an unprecedented leak of a draft opinion from the Supreme Court already showed that it intended to strike down the Roe v Wade ruling.
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The leak immediately caused great indignation among progressive Americans – as well as people across the world – who under President Trump were powerless to do anything but watch as various Republican states increasingly restricted the right.
As incumbent Democratic US President Joe Biden has not yet made an official statement on the ruling, former President Barack Obama called the ruling "devastating," and urged people to protest the ruling and join activists who have been "sounding the alarm on abortion access for years."
With the ruling now, the Supreme Court goes against the wishes of the majority of Americans, as most support the right to abortion, a recent poll showed.
Minutes after the ruling was made public on Friday afternoon, Belgian Prime Minister De Croo tweeted that he was "very concerned about the implications of the US Supreme Court decision, and the signal it sends to the world."
"Banning abortion never leads to fewer abortions, only to more unsafe abortions," he stressed, reaffirming that "Belgium will continue to work with other countries to advance sexual and reproductive health rights everywhere."