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We are shocked and concerned about the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, which will not only ban access to safe, legal abortion in many states, but could also have implications for LGBTQ+ rights and access to contraception.

26 US states [1] are highly likely to severely restrict or ban abortion, and it’s already started. This decision could affect 33.6 million people who live in states now at risk of losing access to abortion [2]. It is likely that the most marginalised communities will be most affected, as people seeking abortion are disproportionately people with low incomes [3], and least likely to be able to afford to travel to other states in order to seek safe, legal abortion care. Removing access to legal abortion does not reduce the number of abortions, but actually increases the number of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion [4], and substantially increases the risk of death for the people who receive abortions. When performed properly, an abortion, either through medication or surgery, is one of the safest gynaecological procedures – safer than childbirth [5].

It is shocking that the US Supreme Court, made up of only nine people, with a decision by only five people can strip the right to access reproductive healthcare for millions of people in the US and their right to bodily autonomy, reproductive liberty and privacy. Thousands of women, girls, trans and non-binary people are going to be forced to remain pregnant against their will, losing control of their futures, including being forced to go through pregnancy after rape or incest. Not only is it shocking that the Court could overturn legal precedent in order to do this, but it sends a chilling signal of what other federally protected rights could be overturned, such as same-sex marriage. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas has already stated that he will consider overturning other landmark cases which rely on the same legal reasoning. These include the right for same-sex couples to marry, the right to contraception and interracial marriage. This assault on reproductive and bodily freedoms is taking place against a backdrop of increasingly anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the US, including Florida’s “Don’t say gay” bill which bans discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools.

A ban on abortion will never change the fact that everyone deserves access to timely and affordable care, and abortion is healthcare. However, in the UK, anti-abortion activists harass patients at clinics, which affects the delivery of a vast range of sexual and reproductive healthcare services. We urge the UK government to provide abortion clinic buffer zones to protect and safeguard people seeking abortions in this country and ask that more is done to enable safe access to reproductive care. Denying people of their rights to liberty and privacy has the potential to cross into so many other aspects of our lives, including same-sex marriage, trans rights, access to contraception and HIV care.