The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) have joined more than 100 global healthcare organisations in condemning the decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn abortion ruling Roe v Wade, in a statement reading:
“The United States Supreme Court decision to dismantle Roe v Wade and roll back 50 years of access to safe abortion care is a catastrophic blow to the lives of millions of women, girls and pregnant people who now face the prospect of being forced to continue pregnancies. It is a decision that will cost lives for years to come.”
The ruling comes after documents leaked at the start of May revealed the Supreme Court’s intention to overturn the landmark case that granted women across the country access to abortion care. Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court effectively revokes the constitutional right to abortion that was established by Roe v Wade in 1973. All 50 States will now be able to set their own abortion laws. 26 States are expected to ban abortions immediately as a consequence.
The joint statement signed by organisations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and The World Association of Trainees in Obstetrics & Gynecology (WATOG) highlights that “restrictive laws do not reduce the need for abortion care. Rather, such laws increase inequities in access; nurture an environment of fear, stigmatisation and criminalisation; and put women, girls and pregnant people at risk.”
“Each year 47,000 women in the world die as a result of unsafe abortion and an estimated five million are hospitalised for the treatment of serious complications such as bleeding or infection. “
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said:
“This decision is an unconscionable attack on the health and rights of women and girls in the United States. Abortion care is essential healthcare and the decision to have an abortion should be entirely up to the individual, and the individual alone.
“It’s shocking to think that the future of so many women and girls has been dictated by politics rather than evidence-based opinion.
“This ruling will also harm health care workers and will exacerbate the abuse, threats and even violence that many individuals providing abortion care already experience.”
Dr Ranee Thakar, Vice President for Global Health and President Elect of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said:
“The chilling effect of the ruling will undoubtedly be felt around the world. We call on governments to create and protect legal and regulatory environments that support healthcare professionals to provide access to safe and affordable abortion care.
“With this statement we also send a message to our Members, Fellows, health care workers, as well as all others affected by this decision, reaffirming our commitment to continue the fight for the recognition of abortion care as essential healthcare and the need for it to be decriminalised everywhere.”
Dr Helen Munro, Vice-Chair of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) said: “Quality and safe abortion care is integral to sexual and reproductive healthcare. We believe women should have the right to access quality, safe and legal abortion care wherever they live worldwide. Criminalising abortion and hampering access to care only serves to increase the number of unsafe abortions, putting women’s lives at risk.
“All women should be able to receive prompt access to abortion services, which should include good pregnancy decision-making support and access to post-abortion contraception by trained healthcare professionals if they choose.
“We support the removal of criminal and civil sanctions associated with abortion in any country. Abortion should be subject to appropriate professional standards and regulatory frameworks.”
For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)7740 175342 or email email@example.com.
Notes to Editor
To view the joint statement, visit:
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ.
About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.
 WHO. Unsafe abortion: global and regional estimates of the incidence of unsafe abortion and associated mortality in 2008. Sixth Edition. 2011. p 27. 10
 Singh S, Hospital admissions resulting from unsafe abortion: estimates from 13 developing countries, Lancet, 2006, 368(955):1887–1892.