Council Commentary

Statement on the US Supreme Court Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade

As a global research organization committed to sexual and reproductive health, rights, and choices, the Population Council is deeply disturbed by the United States Supreme Court’s decision to revoke the right to abortion—a right that has been protected for nearly 50 years.  

The Justices’ decision is an attack on evidence-based policymaking and the rights of women and pregnant people and has the potential to further derail progress on reproductive rights—not only in the US but around the world.  

Evidence shows that restricting access to legal abortion doesn’t reduce the number of abortions. Rather, it increases unsafe abortions and pregnancy-related deaths, and leads to detrimental financial, health, and family outcomes across generations. Protecting the right to abortion is fundamental to providing access to safe abortion for all those who need it.  

This reversal will also deepen health inequity in the United States, disproportionately harming those who have been systematically discriminated against and already have limited healthcare access, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color; young people; and low-income and rural communities. 

The Population Council recognizes abortion as an important component of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care that underpins the health and well-being of individuals and their families. Access to safe abortion is key to ensuring people’s autonomy, agency, and aspirations.  

For decades, the Population Council has worked to expand access to and protect sexual and reproductive health and rights around the world. In 2000, the Council, in the face of virulent opposition, developed and secured US Food and Drug Administration approval for mifepristone, the abortion pill. Today, medication abortion accounts for over half of US abortions, used by more than 4 million women, with a time-tested record of safety.  

Our research also informed recent guidelines published by the World Health Organization, recommending self-managed medication abortion as a safe and effective option, and strengthened the evidence base for the important role mid-level providers play in expanding access to safe abortion care. 

On the legislative front, research undertaken by the Population Council in Mexico played an important part in the passage of the landmark 2007 reform to decriminalize early abortion in Mexico City. In September 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court unanimously ruled that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional, setting an important legal precedent across the country.  

As countries around the world continue to expand abortion access—more than 60 in the past 20 years including Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ireland—it is shocking to see the US going backwards. We must collectively support and build on the work of feminist leaders and activists in communities around the world to confront setbacks and push harder to make progress toward universal access to high quality and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.  

In this urgent time, the Population Council remains steadfast in our commitment to evidence-based policies to ensure sexual and reproductive health, rights, and choices. We join partners around the world to champion equity, justice, and human rights.