Roe vs. Wade: US prevarication poses threat to sub-Saharan Africa

Friday Okonofua


Roe vs. Wade is a well-publicized decision of the US Supreme Court in January 1973 in which the court ruled 7-2 that the US constitution protects the liberty of a pregnant woman to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction1. Since then, various governments and States in the United States have applied this decision rather inconsistently, and indeed, abortion has become one of the most controversial issues in US political history2. In early May 2022, this prevarication reached its zenith when a leaked document showed that the US Supreme Court might be contemplating reversing itself on its former decision, and thereby limit women’s rights to safe abortion3. If this happens, it would mean that abortion could instantly become illegal in 26 out of the 50 US States. This possibility could be reached as early as June or early July 2022.

The implications of restrictive abortion law in 26 American States would not be difficult to contemplate. It would mean a major reversal of the gains in women’s health and social well-being that have been achieved over the past decades, something that should be unthinkable for a major developed and exemplary country like the US. In truth, restrictive abortion laws have never been known to reduce women’s desire to seek induced abortion, anywhere. It only makes the procedure more difficult to access and therefore more dangerous and unsafe for women. What the change in the law therefore means is that women requiring pregnancy termination would have to travel to other States in the US or possibly outside the country to seek safe abortion care, resulting in untold hardships. It would re-enact the case of another developed country like Romania that witnessed severe hardships and increased mortality of women after abortion became legally restricted in 1967 under President Nicolae Ceausescu4. The situation changed from 1990 when the restriction on abortion was lifted following the Romania revolution.

Roe vs. Wade: US prevarication poses threat to sub-Saharan Africa

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