Who Asked? Boris, Macron, European Leaders Rush to Condemn Roe v. Wade Ruling on Abortion

TOPSHOT - French President Emmanuel Macron (R) gestures as he delivers a speech to the press next to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) prior to their meeting at The Elysee Palace in Paris on August 22, 2019. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is visiting Paris, a day after …
GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images

A chorus of criticism from European leaders rung out on Friday to condemn the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In the hours after the U.S. Supreme Court made its ruling on Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization which overturned the notion that there is a constitutional right to abortion set out in Roe v. Wade — despite America’s founding document making no mention of abortion — leaders from Europe rushed to condemn the decision that will hand back matters of abortion to the state level.

While British leaders typically refrain from commenting on legal matters in the United States, or indeed other ally nations, Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the charge of European leaders attacking the decision during a press conference in Kigali, Rwanda on Friday, saying that the ruling was a “big step backwards”.

“I have always believed in a woman’s right to choose and I stick to that view, that’s why the UK has the laws that it does,” Johnson added.

Despite leading the supposedly Conservative party in Britain, Mr Johnson’s government has vastly expanded abortion access during his tenure. In March, the government made permanent the originally “temporary” coronavirus measure to allow women access to pregnancy ending drugs at home, meaning that abortions can be performed at home with little more than a phone call to the National Health Service (NHS).

The leader of the left-wing opposition Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, also condemned the move to strike down Roe, writing on social media: “Today’s devastating Supreme Court decision is a massive setback for women’s rights in the United States of America. The right of women to make their own decisions about their own bodies is a fundamental human right.”

Across the English Channel, embattled French President Emmanuel Macron weighed in on the debate as well, saying: “Abortion is a fundamental right for all women. It must be protected. I wish to express my solidarity with the women whose liberties are being undermined by the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Ironically, France has stricter abortion laws than some states in America, where left-wing legislatures have legalised abortions up until birth, compared to France, which sets a limit of 14 weeks to end a pregnancy.

Mette Frederiksen, who became the second woman to hold the office of prime minister in Denmark in 2019, commented: “My heart weeps for the girls and women of the USA. A huge set back. The right to a free abortion is one of the most fundamental rights there is. We must never compromise the unrestricted right of women to decide over their own bodies and future.”

Pedro Sanchez, the socialist prime minster of Spain, which is set to allow 16 and 17 year old girls seek abortions without parental consent, said: “We cannot take any rights for granted. Social achievements are always at risk of going backwards and their defence has to be our day to day. Women must be able to decide freely about their lives.”

The Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo said that he is “very concerned about implications of [the US Supreme Court] decision on Roe v Wade and the signal it sends to the world. Banning abortion never leads to fewer abortions, only to more unsafe abortions.

“Belgium will continue to work with other countries to advance [Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights] everywhere.”

The Flemish government has a history of abortion activism, such as in September of last year when the government announced that it would pay for women in Poland to travel to Belgium to have abortions after the conservative government of Poland heavily restricted the ability to end pregnancies.

Even before the Supreme Court officially ruled to strike down Roe v. Wade, the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France passed a resolution pre-emptively condemning the move earlier this month. After a draft of the ruling was controversially leaked to the press, Eurocrats wrote to “condemn the backsliding in women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide including in the U.S. and some EU countries, calling for safe access to abortion.”

The EU parliament went on to demand that President Joe Biden “ensure access to safe and legal abortion,” despite the president having no legal authority to supersede a decision from the Supreme Court.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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