Protests tooks in the UK as a “devastating” decision to scrap the constitutional right to abortion in the United States received widespread condemnation.
The US Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that have been in place for nearly 50 years by deciding to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade ruling.
It is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half of US states.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a “big step backwards”, and hundreds took to the streets of London and Edinburgh to demonstrate against the decision.
At a protest outside the United States embassy in Vauxhall, south London on Friday, the crowds, some in costumes, held signs reading “Our bodies, Our choice”.
Judith Orr, vice chairwoman of campaign group Abortion Rights, which claims to have organised the demonstration, said protesters were “full of rage and anger”.
In the Scottish capital, pro-choice campaigners and MSPs gathered outside the US consulate.
UK politicians from across the spectrum spoke out against the decision, including Mr Johnson, who told reporters at a press conference in Kigali, Rwanda: “I’ve always believed in a woman’s right to choose.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “Today’s devastating Supreme Court decision is a massive setback for women’s rights in the United States of America.
“The right of women to make their own decisions about their own bodies is a fundamental human right.”
The SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon said it will embolden anti-abortion and anti-women forces in other countries too.
Former leader Jeremy Corbyn called it “devastating”, and co-leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, said it is a “truly barbaric ruling, and heartbreaking news for women everywhere”.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan posted on Twitter: “London stands with the women of America whose most basic rights and freedoms are threatened by this ruling.
“A dark day for a great country.”
Rabbi Jonathan Romain said: “America should get ready for unwanted children, back-street abortions, suicides. Abortion should not be treated lightly, and adoption is another option, but complete strangers should not take away a woman’s control over her own body.
“Her right to choose is a sacred right.”
Today's devastating Supreme Court decision is a massive setback for women's rights in the United States of America.
The right of women to make their own decisions about their own bodies is a fundamental human right.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) June 24, 2022
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas), the UK’s leading abortion provider, said it is “appalled” and called on the UK Government to publicly condemn the “assault on women’s human rights”.
However, the charity Christian Action Research and Education (Care) welcomed the decision, saying “the most compassionate societies esteem and protect” both mothers and babies.
Spokeswoman for the Right To Life UK group, Catherine Robinson, said the ruling overturns “an unjust law” and is the “beginning of the legislative battle over abortion, certainly not the end”.