On June 24, the United States Supreme Court struck down the 1973 case of Roe vs. Wade, effectively overturning nearly five decades of precedent that granted a constitutional right to get an abortion.

There were widespread protests among women’s rights advocates in the US and in other countries, condemning the US court’s decision as a “big step backwards.”

More liberal Western leaders, from Western Europe to Canada, were also dismayed and outraged by the US high court’s reversal of the 1973 landmark ruling that guaranteed the constitutional right to choose to have an abortion.

However, US laws permitted regulations after the first trimester of pregnancy, making the United States one of the first countries to liberalize abortion laws.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that about 73 million abortions happened every year worldwide, including in a dozen countries were it is banned and considered a criminal offense.

The number of abortions worldwide translates to about 39 abortions per 1,000 women, a rate that has stayed almost the same since 1990.

In countries where abortion is legal, there has been a decline of about 43 percent but there has been a marked 12 percent increase in countries where abortion is severely restricted, including in the Philippines.

The WHO said the quality and safety of abortion care have improved in countries that have expanded the grounds on which people could access reproductive health services.

However, the safety of abortion procedures diverges widely between countries where abortion is generally legal and in countries with high restrictions on abortion.

In countries with liberal abortion laws, 90 percent of abortion procedures are considered safe, compared with only 25 percent of abortions in countries where abortion is banned.

Based on WHO reports, about 5–13 percent of global maternal deaths are due to complications from unsafe abortions, the vast majority of which occur in developing countries.

Most Western industrialized countries allow the procedure without restriction. About 100 countries have some restrictions, allowing abortion only in limited situations, including for socioeconomic reasons, risks to the physical or mental health of the woman, or the presence of fetal anomalies. It is banned in two dozen countries.

Since the Roe vs. Wade case in 1973, access to safe abortion has been established as a human right by a number of international frameworks, including the UN Human Rights Committee, and regional human rights courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

In 1967, the WHO recognized unsafe abortion as a public health problem and by 2003 it has developed technical and policy guidelines that include a recommendation that states pass abortion laws to protect women’s health.

The UN Population Fund also said addressing the unmet need for family planning would reduce maternal mortality as well as abortion by up to 70 percent in the developing world.

There could be medical, economic, and legal reasons why abortion in allowed in many countries.

However, there remains strong opposition to abortion around the world, There are still a number of countries that have pushed back against the expansion of women’s and reproductive rights.

In the Philippines, Roman Catholic bishops are against legalizing abortion, saying it is morally wrong to take an unborn child’s life.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that abortion is murder because life begins at the moment of conception and ends with natural death.

Pope Francis once said having an abortion was like “hiring a hit man” to eliminate a problematic person.

Since the first century, the Roman Catholic teaching about abortion “has not changed and remains unchangeable”. It considers abortion as a moral evil. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”

The first Christians in the first century condemned abortion, based on “Didache” or the teachings of the 12 apostles and the “Letter of Barnabas.” It also sets apart the early Christian church from pagan cultures by rejecting abortion and infanticide.

The rejection of abortion at every stage was affirmed in the 5th century by Saint Augustine who had knowledge of theories about the human soul not being present until some weeks into pregnancy.

He also based his teaching against abortion from the Holy Bible’s Old Testament, citing the Book of Exodus when the ancient Israelites had imposed a more severe penalty for accidentally causing a miscarriage if the fetus was “fully formed.”

In the 13th century, Saint Thomas Aquinas rejected abortion as gravely wrong at every stage, observing that it is a sin “against nature” to reject God’s gift of a new life.

In the 19th century, scientists increasingly understood that the union of sperm and egg at conception produces a new living being that is distinct from both mother and father.

Modern genetics demonstrated that this individual is, at the outset, distinctively human, with the inherent and active potential to mature into a human fetus, infant, child and adult.

Thus, from 1869 onward the obsolete distinction between the “ensouled” and “unensouled” fetus was permanently removed from canon law on abortion.

Modern science has not changed the Church’s teaching against abortion, but it has underscored how important and reasonable it is, by confirming that the life of each individual of the human species begins with the earliest embryo.

Given the scientific fact that a human life begins at conception, the only moral norm needed to understand the Church’s opposition to abortion is the principle that each and every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with the respect due to a human person.

This is the foundation for the Church’s social doctrine, including its teachings on war, the use of capital punishment, euthanasia, health care, poverty and immigration.

Conversely, to claim that some live human beings do not deserve respect or should not be treated as “persons” is to deny the very idea of inherent human rights. Such a claim undermines respect for the lives of many vulnerable people before and after birth.

It is very selfish for a woman to deprive her unborn child the right to live. These unborn children have their own fundamental right.

They could become celebrities, artists, athletes, and politicians. Their talents and achievements would be wasted if their biological mothers took their lives away.

If their own biological parents do not want them, there are countless childless couples who are willing to accept unwanted children and give them a second chance.

Life is a very precious gift given by God. Humans cannot take an unborn child’s life. Only God can.