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The US Front in the Global War on Women

There is evidence from around the world that the liberty of women is under attack, including in proud democracies. Against this backdrop, the US Supreme Court’s elimination of the federal right to abortion is a particularly egregious offense against women.

OXFORD – The political ructions unleashed in the United States by the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a federal right to abortion, have been immediate and furious. But less attention has been paid to the international backdrop against which the Court’s decision landed. Evidence from around the world points to an increasingly wide-ranging attack on women’s liberty, including in proud democracies.

“Just don’t have sex if you don’t want a baby,” said an impassioned young woman outside the Supreme Court in June 2022. If only all women had that choice. And if only anti-abortion activists would commit to making it so. In fact, a sexual assault occurs every 68 seconds, on average, in the US itself. One of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. From 2009-13, US Child Protective Services agencies substantiated or found strong evidence to indicate that 63,000 children per year were victims of sexual abuse.

In the United Kingdom, rape offenses are at their highest recorded annual level to date, with police in England and Wales recording 67,125 cases in 2021. Yet there were only 1,557 prosecutions in 2021, down from 2,102 in 2020. Over the past four years, rape prosecutions in England and Wales have fallen by 70%. Simply put, a woman’s right not to be raped is not being upheld.