The US supreme court’s decision to wind back abortion rights is “a setback for women and their right to control their own bodies and their lives”, the Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has said.
The minister for women, Katy Gallagher, said the “devastating” decision, while directly affecting people in America, also reinforced the need for Australians “to remain vigilant because hard-fought-for wins before our parliaments can be taken away easily”.
The US supreme court on Friday overturned a ruling that had guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion for almost half a century, with at least 26 states expected to ban abortion immediately or as soon as practicable.
Albanese, who was flying to Spain for a Nato summit on Monday morning, responded to the ruling by saying people were “entitled to their own views, but not to impose their views on women for whom this is a deeply personal decision”.
“That is, in my view, one for an individual woman to make based upon their own circumstances, including the health implications,” Albanese told the ABC AM program in an interview broadcast on Monday.
“This decision has caused enormous distress. And it is a setback for women and their right to control their own bodies and their lives in the United States. It is a good thing that in Australia, this is not a matter for partisan political debate.”
Gallagher echoed Albanese when she said it had been fortunate in Australia that this issue has not been at the “centre of our politics”.
“I think the decision over the weekend in America was devastating for many women,” Gallagher told ABC Radio National.
“Obviously it directly affects women in America and we’re seeing some of that on our TVs at the moment and I know that many women who have reached out to me over the weekend feel the impact of this decision here locally and right across the world.”
Gallagher underlined the need for termination procedures to remain safe and legal in Australia.
“Vigilance is the message – to make sure women in Australia have access to safe and legal abortion, that that matter is resolved between her and her medical practitioner,” she said.
Several Australian politicians cheered the US decision.
The Queensland Liberal National party senator Matt Canavan tweeted: “A wonderful day to protect human life.”
Bernie Finn, a Victorian state MP who was expelled from the Liberal party over his comments that survivors of rape should not be allowed abortions, said the US decision was “a momentous day for humanity”.
“My very warmest congratulations to my friends in the United States who have been fighting for years to overturn Roe,” he wrote on Facebook.
“This will save lives. This is just the beginning.”