Refugees International is deeply distressed by the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, effectively asserting that U.S. states may impose complete bars on the rights of individuals to terminate pregnancies. As a refugee rights organization, we are particularly concerned about the impact the decision will have on forcibly displaced people in the United States and around the world.
The decision conflicts with international human rights law regarding the right to privacy and autonomy, best practices regarding sexual and reproductive health, and privacy protections between doctor and patient. It denies women the most basic rights and permits and validates extraordinary and unacceptable restrictions that are deeply harmful and often dangerous to the health and well-being of those who may become pregnant. Some of these include restrictions on the ability of women and even young girls who have experienced rape and incest to terminate pregnancies at almost any stage.
Through our Women and Girls Program, we focus on the rights of displaced women and girls for many reasons. In particular, women are at greater risk of gender-based violence and denial of sexual and reproductive health care, especially in the context of humanitarian emergencies and human trafficking. Given the high levels of sexual violence in conflict zones and in contexts of displacement, access to sexual and reproductive health care saves lives.
The United States has been at the forefront in responding to humanitarian emergencies, providing development support, and promoting human rights. But this decision undermines that credibility as a global leader. Organizations and governments that receive funding from the United States will now be further deterred from providing information about legally available sexual and reproductive healthcare, including legally available abortion services. Indeed, this decision will result in undue suffering for displaced women and girls around the world.
Banner Photo Caption: Abortion-rights activists gather in front of the Supreme Court building following the announcement to the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling on June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images.