UN Panel Slams US Supreme Court’s Abortion Rights Decision

A United Nations monitoring committee has slammed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, saying it disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities from accessing safe abortion.

The 18-member committee issued its findings Tuesday on the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by the United States and six other countries.

The committee says it is unfortunate the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson overturns nearly 50 years of the right of women to a safe and legal abortion. That, it says, will likely result in higher maternal and morbidity rates, and higher risk of unwanted pregnancies among racial and ethnic minorities.

Pansy Tlakula speaks during a news conference in Geneva, Aug. 30, 2022.

Pansy Tlakula speaks during a news conference in Geneva, Aug. 30, 2022.

Committee member Pansy Tlakula said the committee recommends U.S. federal and state branches of government take measures to ensure racial minorities, Indigenous women, and those with low incomes have access to safe abortions.

“The state must take measures to mitigate the risk of criminal prosecution against the women who do abortions and also to ensure that those who perform or the service providers who perform abortions should be protected against criminal prosecution,” Tlakula said.

She said the committee also recommends the states make it easy for women to travel to states where they can get safe, legal abortions.

The U.N. panel said it has received many submissions from nongovernmental organizations on issues of brutality and the excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies, on gun violence, and on racial profiling.

Tlakula said the U.S. delegation seemed quite willing to look at some of the issues raised by the committee. She said there have been some positive developments on advancing racial equity and on voting rights, which are under siege.

“In that regard, they have also adopted an executive order on promoting the rights of access to voting. So, there are quite a number of executive orders that they have adopted. They were quite willing also to look at the issue of reparations because we raised it with them as well,” she said.

The United States has four years in which to respond to the committee’s recommendations. However, the U.N. experts note some particularly pressing issues that must be implemented in one year.

In light of the Dobbs decision, those include the reproductive health and rights of women, particularly racial minorities, those of ethnic origin, and Indigenous women. The panel also wants fast action by the U.S. on issues related to gun violence and on measures aimed at improving the situation of migrants, asylum-seekers and stateless people.

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