More than 190 organizations and individuals, including health practitioners and human rights experts, today sent a letter to United Nations experts in response to the United States Supreme Court decision that repealed the constitutional right to abortion.
The letter documents how abortion restrictions imposed in the wake of the court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization have deprived women, girls, and persons capable of pregnancy of their human rights to life, health, privacy, liberty, freedom from torture, and more.
It goes on to argue that the Dobbs ruling puts the United States in breach of obligations under several legally-binding international treaties it has ratified, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention against Torture.
In addition to its call to action, the letter includes original research as well as testimony from physicians around the country. The full letter and list of signatories is here.
Dr. Christine Ryan, Legal Director at the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:
“The protections of Roe had long eroded before the court’s ruling, but Dobbs put to rest any doubt of the United States’ failure to meet its human rights obligations. Decades of binding treaties have firmly established abortion as a human right. Now that the violation of this right is clear to all, the international community has a responsibility to act to hold the U.S. accountable.”
Christina Hioureas, Partner at Foley Hoag and Chair of the firm’s United Nations Practice Group, issued the following statement:
“The consequences of Dobbs is that women across the United States are being deprived of critical access to health care and autonomy over their bodies and their lives. Simply put, women and girls will die as a result of this decision. The criminalization of access to reproductive health implicates the United States’ obligations under international law and is, thus, a matter of grave concern for the international community as a whole.”
Payal Shah, Director of the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones at Physicians for Human Rights, issued the following statement:
“The Dobbs decision has placed a target on the backs of pregnant patients and health care providers. The criminalization of abortion in many U.S. states has resulted in health care workers being mandated to act in complicity with violations of their patients’ rights, or to face imprisonment, professional sanction, fines, or harassment. As clinicians in this letter and around the country have shared, laws criminalizing abortion care will increase health disparities and impact the provision of health care across many specializations, from emergency medical care to family medicine to oncology and rheumatology. These harms will be most profoundly felt by Black, Indigenous, and low-income women. The international community, including UN Special Rapporteurs, must condemn this egregious rollback of human rights and affirm the U.S.’ obligation to ensure abortion rights.”
Lauren Wranosky, Research and Program Associate at Pregnancy Justice, issued the following statement:
“The Dobbs decision abandoned the constitutional right to abortion, violated U.S. legal obligations under treaties such as ICCPR, and exposed the fact that Roe was never enough. Many will continue to be jailed, convicted, and sentenced to prison for having abortions, experiencing pregnancy losses, or giving birth to healthy babies. This destroys families, inflicts trauma, and targets the most vulnerable by replacing healthcare with criminalization. We know this humanitarian crisis will only get worse, and we demand that the U.S. government join international peers as a leader in securing reproductive justice for all.”
Annerieke Smaak Daniel, Women’s Rights Researcher at Human Rights Watch, issued the following statement:
“Abortion is a form of health care needed more frequently by women of color, especially Black women, than white women in the US. Abortion restrictions compound economic, social, and geographic barriers to health care, including contraception, disproportionately impacting Black women’s ability to access the care we need. The US federal government is not meeting its human rights obligation to ensure access to abortion and to address and eliminate structural racism and discrimination in the US, and the impact on the health and rights of Black women is clear.”
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.