Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn constitutional protections for abortion was a “big step backwards”.
Speaking reporters in Kigali, Rwanda, Mr Johnson said: “I have always believed in a woman’s right to choose and I stick to that view, that’s why the UK has the laws that it does.”
Earlier today, the court took the dramatic step of overturning the landmark 1973 Roe vs Wade ruling, handing a momentous victory to Republicans and religious conservatives who want to limit or ban the procedure.
The court, in a 6-3 ruling powered by its conservative majority, upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans
after 15 weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
The justices held that the Roe vs Wade decision that allowed
s performed before a foetus would be viable outside the womb - between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy - was wrongly decided because the US Constitution makes no specific mention of
Mississippi's law had been blocked by lower courts as a violation of Supreme Court precedent on
The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half of US states.
Some UK groups have been quick to hit out at the ruling, with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) – the UK’s leading abortion provider – saying it is “appalled”.
Chief executive Clare Murphy said: “Banning abortion does not remove women’s need to end a pregnancy. It simply makes it more difficult and more dangerous.
“We are calling on the UK Government to publicly condemn this assault on women’s human rights, and make clear on the international stage that removing women’s access to swift, safe abortion services has absolutely no place in any society that calls itself civilised in the 21st century.
Anti-abortion demonstrators celebrate the ruling outside the US Supreme Court
“For our politicians to watch silently as women’s rights are rolled back would be unforgiveable. We urge the Government to show leadership as a matter of urgency.”
Nimco Ali, the Government’s independent adviser on tackling violence against women and girls, called the decision “an assault on women’s human rights, their lives and their families”.
She tweeted: “The UK Government and other #G7 cannot remain silent as women’s human rights are breached.”
The Women’s Equality Party tweeted: “Make no mistake. Women will die because of this ruling, and tens of thousands more will be criminalised or forced to continue with pregnancies they did not choose.
“It is barbaric, inhumane and utterly heartbreaking. Solidarity with our sisters.”
The party and the campaign group Abortion Rights were calling for people to join them in protest at the decision outside the US embassy in Vauxhall, south London, on Friday evening.
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.