Global Opposition To Abortion Is Getting More Strategic

Aug 31, 2023
By Amanda Seller, President MSI United States (for Forbes EQ)

In 2023, a year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the opposition to abortion rights is more strategic, better funded and more harmful than at any point in history. Despite a growing global trend toward less restrictive access to abortion care, the opposition continues to have significant impact on the right to choose.

There are many factors contributing to their impact over the past decade, Conservative politicians have found abortion to be a mobilizing issue that can be used to “get out the vote.” They merge anti-choice sentiment with anti-LGBTQI+ and anti- gender-equality movements, to appeal to conservative audiences more comfortable with traditional patriarchal systems where women have fewer rights. Social media and cable television opinion programs provide opportunities to amplify their narratives in environments unchallenged by different opinions. The momentum they gained during the Trump administration when he expanded the global gag rule, continues to arouse anti-choice sentiment and cultivate opposition to choice activity around the world.


The network of organisations seeking to influence abortion policy across Europe

The ultra-Christian, anti-abortion and far-right network is allegedly seeking to replicate anti-choice efforts in the US

Angela Giuffrida in Rome and Flora Garamvolgyi
Thu 26 May 2022

A network of ultra-Christian, anti-abortion and far-right organisations is building momentum in its quest to influence abortion policy in Europe as the US supreme court considers striking down Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalised the procedure in America.

Elements of the network originally came together under the name Agenda Europe, holding yearly summits across the continent between 2013 until at least 2018, by which time it had grown to comprise 300 participants, including politicians and Vatican diplomats.


In a case at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, European groups supported criminalising women who had obstetric emergencies

Diana Cariboni and Tatev Hovhannisyan
3 December 2021

European right-wing groups backed the El Salvador government over the imprisonment and death of a woman for having a miscarriage. But they lost.

One of the groups was the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), a branch of the ultra-conservative American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), led by Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow.


Italy’s futile abortion laws

Despite legislation, far-right politicians and religious organisations have entrenched ways to deny women their right to an abortion and shame those who do terminate a pregnancy.

By: Alex Čizmić
5 May 2021

There are laws that are enacted to bring about real-life change. There are others that are pushed through simply to give the illusion of progress. The latter seems to be the case in Italy with Law 194/78.

This legislation from 22 May 1978 decriminalises and regulates the procedure for accessing an abortion but, according to a report by the minister of health published in 2019 on the implementation of the law, conscientious objection among gynaecologists reached 68.4% on average with peaks of 100% in certain hospitals.


US Catholics funded Malawi opponents of legal abortion in cases of rape

After condemning abortion reform as an imposition of “foreign cultures”, a religious group in Malawi took thousands of dollars in foreign cash

Josephine Chinele
30 March 2021

A Catholic group in Malawi used money from the US to support its campaign against a bill to allow legal abortion in cases of rape – after condemning proposed reforms as an imposition of “foreign cultures”.

The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), a local assembly of Catholic bishops, received a $30,000 grant from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2019 for “pastoral animation and advocacy of members of parliament and the laity in political leadership”.


In Italy, religious organizations’ ‘fetus graves’ reignite abortion debate

Catholic and conservative groups are slowly chipping away at abortion rights in Italy, where abortion has been legal since 1978.

November 11, 2020
By Lucía Benavides

A recently discovered cemetery of aborted fetuses where the names of the women who had had abortions appeared on crosses has sparked outrage across Italy.

Retired gynecologist Silvana Agatone says the cemetery discovery renewed a conversation about growing anti-abortion sentiments in Italy, despite the practice being legal since 1978. Although every public hospital is required to provide abortions, she says only about 64% of them do.


Inside Italian public hospitals, I saw how a US-linked anti-abortion network is ‘humiliating’ women

Inside Italian public hospitals, I saw how a US-linked anti-abortion network is ‘humiliating’ women
An Italian federation of anti-abortion activists, linked to the US religious right, is “infiltrating” hospitals to stop abortions. I saw them in action. (In Italiano).

Francesca Visser
9 March 2020

At 8am on a winter Friday morning, the road to the San Pio hospital in Benevento, a small city in southern Italy, is covered by mist. The hospital’s corridors are quiet, except on the second floor, where abortion-related visits are scheduled to start.

More than forty years after abortions were legalised in Italy, they remain hard for women to access – especially in the south, where most doctors refuse to perform them. In 2017, the entire Benevento province was briefly left with no abortion provider after the only non-refuser at the San Pio hospital retired.


The war on African women is supported by foreign activists, with no regard for our lives

The war on African women is supported by foreign activists, with no regard for our lives
I know what life is like when access to sexual and reproductive services is limited. In Nigeria and across the continent, this must end now.

Olutimehin Adegbeye
1 November 2019

In May, police officers raided a Marie Stopes clinic in Lagos, Nigeria’s capital. Witnesses said the officers harassed patients and accused them of illegally accessing confidential documents. It was the latest in a string of attacks against groups that support women’s reproductive rights. Nigerian feminists, women’s rights campaigners and LGBTIQ+ activists came together on social media to ask, “what is going on?”. A consensus was reached: there is a strategic effort to undermine our sexual and reproductive health and rights, with women’s bodies a key battleground.

Nigeria’s patriarchal conservatism is hardly news; women, girls and queer folks in this country are regularly and legally denied autonomy, the rate of sexual violence is high, while sexual and reproductive healthcare is extremely limited. Nigeria accounts for more than 10% of global maternal deaths, despite representing only 2.5% of the global population, and a 2013 study showed that only 16% of Nigerian women of reproductive age (15-49) have access to, and use, contraception.


Antigender politics from May to August 2019

Antigender politics from May to August 2019

11 Sep 2019
Sexuality Policy Watch

We start this announcement recalling that, before May 2019, two major antigender events have taken place that are worth revisiting because of their potential subsequent ripple effects in Europe and Latin America.

The World Congress of Families – The 2019 edition of the World Family Congress (WCF) was held in Verona (Italy) in the last week of March. The event was attended by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, senior Hungarian officials and other well-known names of conservative religious and lay circles in Europe and the United States. The event faced protest, as Feminist and LGTBI marches took to the streets of Verona to contest the event’s agenda (see a compilation). It is also worth noting that the Vatican and members of the Five Star Movement — whose coalition with Salvini’s Lega Nord governs Italy — have publicly distanced themselves from the conference. Amongst the vast record of information published on Verona, we draw attention to the report published by openDemocracy on the large flow of money — more than 50 million euros — transferred between lay and religious conservatives in the United States and European far-right movements. Another OD report examines how WCF acts as a regular meeting point for strategies among highly conservative personalities, members of the European aristocracy and the Catholic hierarchy engaged in antigender and anti-abortion policies.


Nigeria: Not left out of the global rollback of sexual and reproductive rights

Nigeria: Not left out of the global rollback of sexual and reproductive rights
“What is going on?”

23 July 2019 | By OluTimehin Adegbeye

A few weeks ago, police officers conducted a raid on a Marie Stopes clinic in Lagos. They harassed patients, temporarily detained a doctor, and illegally accessed confidential documents. Immediately following this deeply unnerving attack, which came on the trail of other anti-rights incidents involving state agents, a group of Nigerian feminists, women’s rights campaigners and LGBTQI+ activists came together to ask, “what is going on?”. In the course of the digital conversation that ensued, a consensus was reached: a strategic effort to undermine the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Nigerians is underway, and women’s bodily integrity is on the frontlines.

Nigeria’s patriarchal conservatism is hardly news; women, girls and queer folks in this country are regularly and legally denied their bodily autonomy, and the rate of sexual violence is high.