Press Statement: SECTION27 and Sonke Gender Justice Deeply Concerned with Alabama Abortion Act and US Restrictions on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights

Civil society organisations SECTION27 and Sonke Gender Justice are deeply concerned by the recent signing of the “Alabama Human Life Protection Act”, the most recent law in a wave of anti-abortion legislative measures made under the Trump administration. These measures are a direct attack against the advancement of sexual and reproductive rights of women – not only in the US, but globally.

The Alabama law is the most restrictive law passed in the US to date, as it only allows for a woman to access an abortion if her life would be in danger, and does not provide for exceptions in instances of rape or incest. Under the law, doctors who perform abortions could be jailed for up to 99 years. There have been other similar laws passed in the US this year, including in Ohio and Georgia where a “fetal heartbeat” law prohibits abortions after a heartbeat is detected in an embryo, as early as 5-6 weeks into pregnancy.

The Alabama Act is likely to be legally challenged by those who believe that it is inconsistent with the US Supreme Court’s decision Roe v Wade in 1973, which protects a woman’s right to abortion within the US. It is also of concern that anti-choice groups have been emboldened by the recent changes in law and intend to challenge and overturn the sentinel Roe v Wade decision.

Women in developing countries dependent on US health assistance have also been bearing the brunt of increasingly conservative US anti-abortion policies for the past two years. This includes South Africa.
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