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GJC in the News

Roe Is the Past, Human Rights Are the Future

Excerpt of The Nation op-ed authored by GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

All of us in the abortion rights movement have long prepared for the day Roe v. Wade would be reversed. But nothing could fully brace us for the pain of reading Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion, which categorically declared that abortion is not a constitutional right. While we took to the streets to rage and mourn the destruction of our rights, we heard from feminist allies and partners around the world—some of whom had successfully fought deeply entrenched patriarchal forces to secure historic advances for abortion rights in their country and offered lessons for our struggle. There is an immense amount to learn from them, but there is one lesson in particular to embrace: We must place human rights at the center of our demands for unfettered access to abortion.

Since the Supreme Court decided Roe in 1973, the story of abortion access in the United States has been one of steady regression. In 1976, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment to restrict the use of federal funds for abortion except in limited circumstances. This decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in Harris v. McRae, which found that that neither the federal government nor states were required to pay for abortion services—severely undercutting the realization of a constitutional right. Subsequent years saw Planned Parenthood v. Casey limit Roe through the imposition of the “undue burden” standard, Gonzales v. Carhart limit later abortions, and National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra limit regulation of anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers.” And just under 50 years after Roe, the court dealt its killing blow to abortion rights in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

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Ireland and Latin America Can Inspire the US Abortion Fight

Excerpt of Bloomberg article quoting GJC Legal Director Dr. Christine Ryan.

High-profile cases can nuance the debate by making even those averse to terminations recognize that it can be necessary — but normalization is vital. As Christine Ryan of the Global Justice Center argues, most abortion cases are not extreme; legislating only for the exceptions risks leaving many people behind, and abortion outside normal reproductive healthcare. Another risk is that only those who elicit our compassion are seen as deserving of this freedom. “Women shouldn't need to make us cry to have their rights respected,” Ryan says.

Both in Latin America and in Ireland, language choices helped to break down taboos. Avoiding heavily charged words (including abortion), campaigns have focused on the voluntary interruption of pregnancy as a medical procedure. Ireland’s was notable for its emphasis on hope. Its “Together for Yes” campaign featured slogans like “Sometimes a private matter needs public support” and advertisements that called to mind unifying national events, encouraging voters to drive change. The Niñas No Madres campaign in Latin America sought to shield young girls by encouraging the girls to be seen as just that — children.

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The Fight to Secure U.S. Abortion Rights Is Global

Excerpt of Ms. Magazine Op-Ed authored by GJC Special Counsel Michelle Onello and GJC Legal Advisor Elean Sarver.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization stands to unleash devastating rollbacks on abortion across the United States, while also bringing domestic policy more in line with foreign policy. For decades, international aid restrictions have made abortion inaccessible abroad, resulting in significant harm—including death. While the forthcoming decision, and its catastrophic fallout, is not likely to have an immediate global impact, it will undercut efforts to remove these restrictions and embolden the anti-abortion lobby to further instrumentalize U.S. foreign policy to promote its ideology.

A central U.S global abortion restriction, the Helms Amendment has prohibited the use of foreign assistance for the performance of abortion “as a method of family planning” for nearly 50 years. The Helms Amendment has overridden national legislation in countries receiving aid and been over-implemented as a total ban on abortion, ignoring congressionally permitted exceptions in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. It’s also disregarded a clarification, known as the Leahy Amendment, that permits information and counseling about abortion.

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Abortion: Ireland’s past is America’s future

Excerpt of The Hill Op-Ed authored by GJC Legal Director Dr. Christine Ryan.

This month, four years ago, media from across the globe descended on the courtyard of Dublin Castle. They traveled to capture the scene of thousands of Irish people celebrating the results of the Irish abortion referendum. A landslide majority had “repealed the 8th” and voted to change the country’s constitution to enable legal recognition of abortion rights for the first time in the state’s history. Generations of families cheered and cried together while politicians from warring parties embraced. Viewers abroad marveled at the displays of pride, rapture, and even love.   

To understand why the referendum result in Ireland prompted such outpourings is to understand the full meaning of the right to abortion. On the one hand, the right ensures that women and pregnant people of reproductive age can terminate unwanted or unsafe pregnancies without legal sanction. On the other, it signifies state recognition that women are equal agents in their societies, deserving of respect for their life choices. The right upends the assumptions that coerce women into predefined gender roles and rejects the seemingly immortal ideologies that accord women a lesser status. It demands that society trust women and that the law affirms their dignity and autonomy.

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U.S. would lag behind global abortion access if Roe v. Wade is undone, advocates say

Excerpt of NPR article that mentions the Global Justice Center.

International rights groups warned the U.S. Supreme Court last year that possibly overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade case that made abortions legal in 1973 would put it behind the curve of other countries that have been expanding access to abortion care.

Human Rights Watch says there is an international trend toward expanding abortion access.

Argentina legalized abortion in 2020, while Mexico decriminalized the procedure in 2021.

Statistics also show that in Ecuador, El Salvador, South Africa and Romania, the more restrictive abortion legislation is, the higher incidences of women dying or contracting diseases after giving birth are, according to a September 2021 brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The brief was submitted by Human Rights Watch in partnership with Amnesty International and the Global Justice Center.

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