Leading medical journal warns 'women will die' if Supreme Court overturns Roe

One of the world’s oldest and most well-known medical journals published an editorial on Thursday warning that if the U.S. Supreme Court were to confirm Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, “women will die.”

“The fact is that if the U.S. Supreme Court confirms its draft decision, women will die,” the Lancet said in its editorial. “The Justices who vote to strike down Roe will not succeed in ending abortion, they will only succeed in ending safe abortion. Alito and his supporters will have women's blood on their hands.”

The 199-year-old journal argues that Alito’s “shocking, inhuman, and irrational” draft opinion “utterly fails to consider the health of women today who seek abortion.”

The cover of the Lancet's May 14 issue. (The Lancet)
The cover of the Lancet's May 14 issue. (The Lancet)

“Unintended pregnancy and abortion are universal phenomena. Worldwide, around 120 million unintended pregnancies occur annually,” the editorial stated. “Of these, three-fifths end in abortion. And of these, some 55% are estimated to be safe — that is, completed using a medically recommended method and performed by a trained provider. This leaves 33 million women undergoing unsafe abortions, their lives put at risk because laws restrict access to safe abortion services.”

In the United States, the Lancet notes, Black women have an unintended pregnancy rate double that of non-Hispanic white women and a maternal mortality rate almost three times higher than for white women.

“These sharp racial and class disparities need urgent solutions, not more legal barriers,” the editorial said.

“If the Court denies women the right to safe abortion,” the Lancet concluded, “it will be a judicial endorsement of state control over women — a breathtaking setback for the health and rights of women, one that will have global reverberations.”

Demonstrators in support of reproductive rights march following a protest vigil outside Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's home in Alexandria, Va., on May 9.
Demonstrators in support of reproductive rights march following a protest vigil outside Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's home in Alexandria, Va., on Monday. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

The publication of the editorial comes amid nationwide protests by abortion rights advocates over the initial draft majority opinion, which was published by Politico earlier this month. The report suggested that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

Polls show that most Americans would object to such a move.

According to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll, just 31% of U.S. adults say Roe should be overturned. In contrast, nearly twice as many Americans see abortion as “a constitutional right that women in all states should have some access to” (56%) and say the procedure should be legal in all or most cases (55%).

Hundreds of thousands of advocates for reproductive rights are expected to take part in demonstrations in dozens of U.S. cities on Saturday.