Photo credit: Erik Mcgregor/Pacific Press
The uproar over the unconstitutional Texas law outlawing abortion after six weeks (before most people even know they are pregnant), has not died down. Women and some men have been mobilizing around the world to protect women’s reproductive rights. The global MenEngage Alliance and its regional partner, North American MenEngage Network, added their voices to the struggle in a statement they released on International Safe Abortion Day, September 28, a date chosen because it is the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Brazil. Below is an edited version.
On this day, we express our solidarity with all involved in the call for universal access to affordable, safe, and legal abortion. We call all men and boys, especially men in positions of power and influence across institutions, to join women, girls, and people of diverse gender identities, in actions to protect and expand access to safe and legal abortions and post-abortion care everywhere.
The ability of each of us to make autonomous decisions about our bodies and lives includes decisions about pregnancy and abortion. We must challenge the norms, systems, and policies that create barriers to safe abortion and post-abortion care, and restrict women and girls, in all their diversities, of their fundamental autonomy over themselves. We believe that no impediment should come between a pregnant person and their choice of whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term. Yet, globally, many women and girls are currently unable to access the safe and legal abortion and care they need. We recognize the disproportionate impact on women of color, black, Indigenous, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and nonbinary individuals, and youth communities living at these intersections and who are on the margins of the margins.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that three out of ten (29 percent) of all pregnancies, and six out of ten (61 percent) of all unintended pregnancies, end in an induced abortion. While abortion is a simple procedure, and safe forms of abortion are available throughout the world, of all abortions performed each year worldwide approximately 45 percent continue to be unsafe, posing unnecessary risks to the health and life of the pregnant person.
We believe that sexual and reproductive health and rights are not only women’s issues. They are issues for everyone and impact all of us. We call on men and boys to add their voices and take actions to protect access to safe and legal abortion, to protect universal access to health, and to speak up when they see violations of the human rights of women and girls taking place, including their right to reproductive healthcare.
We are outraged that around the world women and girls continue to lack access to safe sexual and reproductive health services and abortion, particularly in countries where abortion is criminalized. We are also outraged by the systematic attempts by policymakers to revoke women’s rights in countries where abortion is legal, including most recently in the United States with Texas Law SB8, laying the foundation for dozens of states across the US to take the same action.
This is a clear attack on women’s human and sexual and reproductive health and rights, rights that have been recognized as individual rights for a very long time. We are aware that the ability to travel to other States for these services bears a disproportionate socioeconomic burden on Black, Latin and Indigenous women, women of lower-income and in informal labor, who are unable to take time off or to afford the expenses incurred, further marginalizing and directly targeting them. We collectively condemn this regressive move by the state and raise our collective voices to protect the right of pregnant people to end a pregnancy, if they so wish, in privacy and with dignity.
The North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN) and MenEngage Alliance, therefore stand in solidarity with the women and abortion services and care providers in the United States and globally who have been under attack. Recent measures strive to sow fear and doubt in their rights, and intentionally create mistrust among and within the population, communities and families. Such measures are attacks on the fundamental rights and health of women and girls, and the wellbeing of communities all of which are appalling and unacceptable to us as men, boys, and supporters of women’s rights.
Supporting women’s right to safe and legal abortion is crucial in MenEngage Alliance’s activism globally. Together we commit to supporting women’s fundamental rights to bodily autonomy and reproductive rights and work to challenge laws and policies restricting the right and access to safe abortion and post-abortion care for everyone who needs them. We call upon all men and boys, in all diversities, to work as meaningful allies in ending this long-overdue existing control of women’s sexuality and reproduction.
—North America MenEngage Network and Global MenEngage Alliance