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World leaders alarmed by possible overturn of Roe v. Wade

A crowd gathers outside the Supreme Court early Tuesday after the leak of a draft opinion on Roe v. Wade suggested the justices could overturn the landmark abortion rights decision. (Alex Brandon/AP)
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LONDON — Leaders around the world expressed alarm Tuesday at the prospect of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade — and warned against the threat to abortion rights for women in the United States and everywhere.

Liberal politicians called Tuesday for more protections for women after a leaked draft opinion suggested the U.S. court could strike down the precedent set nearly 50 years ago in the landmark case.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “the right to choose is a woman’s right and a woman’s right alone.”

“Every women in Canada has a right to a safe and legal abortion,” he tweeted. “We’ll never back down from protecting and promoting women’s rights in Canada and around the world.”

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A Spanish official described the possibility as “an alarming step backward with dire consequences for American women.”

“We need to continue to protect sexual and reproductive rights, in the U.S. and around the world,” said Yolanda Diaz, Spain’s second deputy prime minister.

Supreme Court is ready to strike down Roe v. Wade, leaked draft shows

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon echoed the sentiment. “Experience tells us that removing the legal right to abortion doesn’t stop abortions happening — it just makes them unsafe and puts the lives of women at much greater risk,” she said.

Abortion is one of the most polarizing issues in U.S. politics. The draft opinion, published by Politico on Monday, sent shock waves across the United States and brought protesters to the Supreme Court.

It remains unclear whether the document, which says it’s time to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” will serve as the basis for the court’s decision. The language in draft opinions can be strengthened or toned down.

What would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned

A Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe would leave abortion laws up to the states, which have been deeply divided.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said such an outcome would imperil a legal precedent that “enshrined women’s fundamental rights over their own bodies” and access to health care. “That cannot and must not be undone,” he wrote on Twitter. “London stands with women across the United States today.”

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters the matter was up to the U.S. justice system. The spokesman said Britain, where abortion is broadly legal during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, “defends the reproductive rights of women globally.”

How abortion laws in the U.S. compare with those in other countries

French Sen. Julien Bargeton said overturning Roe would be “a terrible regression for American women.” “Progressives around the world must mobilize,” he tweeted.

Globally, the trend has been toward expanding abortion rights. Countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, New Zealand, Thailand and Ireland have made it easier to secure the procedure legally.

Lawmakers in some parts of the United States have made it more difficult. Access has declined in more than a dozen states. The most restrictive law is in Texas, which has banned most abortions after about six weeks. Many countries have a cutoff for abortions of 15 weeks or earlier, but the differences around the world are complex, as The Washington Post previously reported.

Coletta reported from Toronto. Robert Barnes and Mike DeBonis in Washington contributed to this report.