At Amref Health Africa, we see first-hand the devastating effects illegal abortion has in the countries we work in. Unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide – upwards of 10 women die every day across Africa because of them. We know that laws do not stop abortions, they just steer pregnant people toward unsafe ones. Time and time again, we have seen that where abortion is illegal, there are more pregnancy-related deaths, the rate of people accessing prenatal care goes down, the number of mental health crises increases, including suicide, and access and willingness to seek care are threatened for those experiencing miscarriages and obstetric emergencies.
Bodily autonomy is an essential, unconditional liberty, and without it, there is no equity for all in healthcare. Here in the US, the majority of our staff are female, and we support their right to privacy and choice in all their healthcare matters – especially when it comes to sexual and reproductive health.
When the Roe v. Wade decision was issued in 1973, it became an essential legal landmark for women fighting to loosen family planning laws across Africa and around the world. The overturning of this case is a major setback for human rights and gender equality – as often what happens in the US has ripple effects worldwide.
As members of the public health community, we fear actions like this will not only cause immediate suffering to women and people who can get pregnant here at home, but also reverse the progress made in reproductive and family planning care globally. In light of this threat, we pledge to not only continue the work we have done for the last 60 years, especially in maternal and child health, girls’ empowerment, and sexual and reproductive health rights and education, but strive for even greater progress and resilience, no matter what comes our way. We will not standby as lives are lost.
To learn more about our work in sexual and reproductive health care click here. To learn more about how you can help in the US, click here.