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UK medics call US abortion ban 'catastrophic blow'

The UK response to the removal of the constitutional right to abortion in the US has been one of anger, sadness, and disbelief.

The US Supreme Court has voted to overturn the 1973 case of Roe vs Wade, so in effect revoking the constitutional right to abortion that American women have had since the landmark decision. It means the 50 individual US states will be able to set their own abortion laws. Half are expected to ban abortions, some already have, and already clinics across the US have been closing down.

The ruling has been widely condemned by the UK’s healthcare organisations, including the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The BMA called it "deeply worrying for the future of women’s reproductive health". Dr Zoe Greaves, chair of the BMA’s medical ethics committee said: "Banning or severely restricting abortion prevents only the safe termination of pregnancy, it doesn’t prevent abortions. If women are denied necessary and appropriate care, they will be forced to travel out of their home state to access services, something which is also being suggested will be made illegal. It could also drive abortion services underground and lead to an increase in self-administered abortions, placing the most vulnerable of women at greatest risk of harm. Restricting abortion will harm ‘rural, minority and poor patients’ the most, according to leading health organisations in the US."

Dr Helen Munro, vice-chair of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) said: "Criminalising abortion and hampering access to care only serves to increase the number of unsafe abortions, putting women’s lives at risk.

"All women should be able to receive prompt access to abortion services, which should include good pregnancy decision-making support and access to post-abortion contraception by trained healthcare professionals if they choose."

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Source: Medscape, 27 June 2022


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