Prince Harry on Monday spoke out against “a global assault on democracy and freedom,” including an alleged “rolling back of constitutional rights in the United States” during a keynote address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The Duke of Sussex suggested many people feel “battered, helpless in the face of seemingly endless streams of disasters and devastation,” calling 2022 a “painful year in a painful decade.”
#BREAKING: At the United Nations, Prince Harry calls out "the rolling back of Constitutional rights in the United States" as part of "a global assault on democracy and freedom." pic.twitter.com/RnJNmkPDcp
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“We’re living through a pandemic that continues to ravage communities in every corner of the globe,” he said in the speech to mark Nelson Mandela International Day. “Climate change wreaking havoc on our planet, with the most vulnerable suffering most of all. The few weaponizing lies and disinformation at the expense of the many. And from the horrific war in Ukraine to the rolling back of constitutional rights here in the United States, we are witnessing a global assault on democracy and freedom, the cause of Mandela’s life.”
Harry’s reference to constitutional rights seems to refer to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade, returning the question of abortion to the states.
While many European leaders have been quick to criticize the Court’s decision, the Mississippi law at the center of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health outlawed abortion past the 15th week of pregnancy, which is in line with abortion policy in many other countries.
French president Emmanuel Macron responded to the ruling in saying, “Abortion is a fundamental right for all women. It must be protected. I wish to express my solidarity with the women whose liberties are being undermined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” However, the limit for abortion in France is 16 weeks.
U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson called the court’s ruling a “big step backwards.” Britain’s abortion law allows women to have an abortion up to 24 weeks after pregnancy after approval from two doctors who “must agree having the baby would pose a greater risk to the physical or mental health of the woman than a termination.” An abortion can legally be carried out if there is a “substantial risk” that the baby would “suffer from physical or mental abnormalities” or because of other social or financial circumstances.
Meanwhile, Harry on Monday called out global inaction on climate change.
“As we sit here today, our world is on fire, again,” he said. “And these historic weather events are no longer historic. More and more, they are part of our daily lives, and this crisis will only grow worse, unless our leaders lead.”
He called for “daring, transformative decisions” to save humanity.
“These decisions may invite resistance from powerful interests. But the right thing to do is not up for debate. And neither is the science,” he added. “The only question is if we will be brave enough and wise enough to do what is necessary.”