The Guardian view on abortion: protecting a human right | Editorial

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Cruel laws risk lives and harm women around the world. Attempts to extend them must be resisted

No law can end abortions, however severe its restrictions and however harsh its penalties. Each day almost 70,000 unsafe abortions are carried out around the world, and they are vastly more likely to happen in countries with strict laws. What such legislation does do is force some women to continue pregnancies against their wishes, while risking the lives and wellbeing of others. Women in the US have seen their ability to terminate pregnancies dismantled piece by piece. Now states are racing to outlaw or dramatically curb abortions with extreme and unconstitutional bills. The aim is to directly challenge Roe v Wade, the US supreme court ruling that established that abortion is legal before the foetus is viable outside the womb, at around 24 weeks. Last Tuesday, the governor of Georgia signed a bill essentially banning abortions after six weeks from 2020. Some described it as a sign that men who wish to control women’s bodies have no idea of how they actually work. More likely, those who pushed hardest for the change understand all too well that many women will not know they are pregnant until it is too late.

Five other states have signed similar bills; several more are considering them. (Others have introduced more incremental curbs.) The Alabama senate will this week consider a near-total ban on abortion – with prison sentences of up to 99 years for doctors – which Republicans initially tried to sneak through without even a vote. The state’s lieutenant governor said he believes Roe v Wade will be overturned thanks to Donald Trump’s appointment of conservative jurists.

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