Roe Abolition Makes U.S. a Global Outlier

Almost 50 years ago, the United States liberalized abortion laws, and the world followed suit. Today, it joins Iran, North Korea, and Russia in rolling back reproductive rights.

JUNE 24, 2022
by FP Staff

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to an abortion. In a 6-3 ruling, with all three of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s appointees voting in the majority, the court upheld a Mississippi state law that banned abortions after a gestational age of 15 weeks. That hands legal authority for abortions to states, about half of which will enact all but total bans on the medical procedure.

With the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the United States became a world leader in liberalizing abortion laws, and scores of other countries followed suit in the decades afterward. Although a handful of countries in recent years have reversed these laws, Foreign Policy analysis shows a worldwide trend toward greater reproductive freedom for women, not less, which makes the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision—and the United States in general—an outlier. Abortion is still largely illegal in many countries coded as improving access—but exceptions in cases such as rape, incest, or saving the life of the pregnant woman have been made.