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Amnesty International in Northern Ireland blasts ‘devastating’ US Supreme Court ruling on Roe V Wade

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Anti-abortion protesters celebrate following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, federally protected right to abortion, in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Anti-abortion protesters celebrate following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, federally protected right to abortion, in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

AP

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International

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Anti-abortion protesters celebrate following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, federally protected right to abortion, in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

A human rights organisation in Northern Ireland has branded a decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn constitutional abortion rights as a “devastating blow” to women.

Amnesty International NI said the overturning of Roe v Wade is a “painful reminder of the fragility of progress” and called it “shameful”.

Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald called it a “bad day for women” and the People Before Profit councillor Fiona Ferguson said it “cannot go unchallenged”, urging people to attend a protest on Wednesday at Belfast City Hall.

The former Green Party south Belfast MLA Clare Bailey said the Supreme Court has dealt a “brutal blow to women”, tweeting a clip from the The Handmaid's Tale television series.

"We have been reminded that we are not free. But we are many and we will overcome. We always have & we always will find the help we need in spite of the patriarchy,” she added.

DUP MLA Paul Frew supported the decision taken in the US, tweeting it was “massive news”, adding “both lives matter”.

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The protection for abortions across the United States had been in place for nearly 50 years but was overturned due to the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.

Friday's outcome is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states and has led to a swift outcry by human rights organisations across the globe.

The decision was the culmination of decades of efforts by abortion opponents, made possible by an emboldened right side of the court that has been fortified by three appointees of former President Donald Trump.

Thirteen states, mainly in the South and Midwest, already have laws on the books that ban abortion in the event Roe is overturned. Another half-dozen states have near-total bans or prohibitions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.

The decision came against a backdrop of public opinion surveys that find a majority of Americans oppose overturning Roe and handing the question of whether to permit abortion entirely to the states.

Local opposition to the decision has been voiced on Friday afternoon.

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Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland deputy director said: “The overturning of Roe v Wade is a devastating blow to women’s rights.

“This rights rollback is a painful reminder of the fragility of progress and why the fight to protect access to abortion healthcare never stops.

“We offer our full support and solidarity to campaigners in the US who will continue their work to enable access to abortion in light of this shameful decision.

“We are at a vital point in the realisation of abortion rights in Northern Ireland - the sooner services are established and accessible to all who need them the better.”

The ruling came more than a month after the leak of a draft opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step.

It puts the court at odds with a majority of Americans who favoured preserving Roe, according to opinion polls.

Alito, in the final opinion issued Friday, wrote that Roe and Planned Parenthood v Casey, the 1992 decision that reaffirmed the right to abortion, were wrong the day they were decided and must be overturned.

Authority to regulate abortion rests with the political branches, not the courts, Alito wrote.

Joining Alito were Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The latter three justices are Trump appointees. Thomas first voted to overrule Roe 30 years ago.


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