Skip to content

Alumni Update July 2022 - Case Insight

The overturning of Roe v. Wade is a tremendous victory for life! ADFI’s Legal Communication Director, Elyssa Koren, answers a few questions that may arise in the aftermath of the decision. 

President Biden claimed that post-Roe America will now be an “outlier among developed nations in the world.” But what do abortion restrictions actually look like in other countries?  

Most countries protect unborn life with heavy restrictions on abortion access, only permitting the practice on narrow grounds. The U.S. was one of only six countries, including China and North Korea, that allowed abortion “on demand” throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Moreover, the countries that do allow abortion predominantly limit those conducted solely at the woman’s request to 12 weeks gestational age. Even countries with so-called progressive abortion laws, such as France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland, have a gestational limit of 14 weeks or earlier for abortion on demand. The U.S. under Roe v. Wade was the true outlier, not the other way around. 

What impact does the U.S. have on the global abortion climate?  

The U.S. has used the full brunt of its international might to force countries around the world into conformity with its extremist abortion ethos. Many changes in domestic abortion laws have transpired due to direct, and largely financial, pressure from the U.S. and other forces. Roe has been the guidebook for international abortion exportation, with Western powers wielding their clout to make the rest of the world look like the U.S. 

A recent Foreign Policy article details the impact that Roe has had across the world: “when the Roe v. Wade decision was issued in the 1970s, it became an important legal landmark for women fighting to liberalize family planning laws around the world—including in Africa.” Most recently, the Kenyan High Court explicitly cited Roe as justification for removing protections for unborn life. Kenya has been pummelled by international pressures in this regard, and many countries have fallen prey to similar violations of their national sovereignty. Now, the rug has been pulled out from under these pressure tactics. The hope is that the post-Roe climate will mitigate American aggression, prompting other countries to consider anew the best laws for their own national contexts.

What can we expect to see happening in post-Roe America? 

What the Supreme Court has done in Dobbs is return the abortion debate in the U.S. to the American people. This is a resounding affirmation of the principle of self-determination. Other countries that protect unborn life should be inspired to stand firm in defending their right to self-determine too, resisting external attempts to force changes in their laws safeguarding unborn life. 

As the U.S. begins to recalibrate its abortion laws, the fight for the right to life of the unborn has more momentum than ever before. At home, the U.S. is reversing course on abortion extremism. Its stance toward other countries should reflect that reversal. And yet, the U.S.—the primary exporter of abortion internationally—has earmarked almost $600 million for “sexual and reproductive health” programs under the Biden administration’s 2023 budget alone. The hypocrisy is unconscionable. 

We must remember that despite clamors to the contrary, there is no international “right” to abortion. International human rights law is predicated on a profound respect for all human life, at all stages. Although the course will be far from smooth, the U.S. is well within its prerogative to remake its laws on abortion, which includes protecting unborn life at the earliest stages. This should encourage other countries to recommit to the defense of their national sovereignty on this issue, maintaining the focus on the human right to life of every person, born or unborn.