Humanists UK and Malta call out global backsliding on abortion rights

17 March, 2023

Valetta city, Malta

Humanists UK and Humanists Malta delivered a joint intervention to the UN Human Rights Council, raising their concerns over global backsliding on women’s rights to bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health, including the right to safe abortion.

The intervention highlighted that the repeal of Roe vs Wade, resulting in the removal of the constitutional right to abortion in the US, has led to backwards trends around the world.  Humanists UK and Humanists Malta called on UN member states to repeal discriminatory laws that restrict women’s and girl’s full and equal enjoyment of all human rights.

The call was made in a joint intervention during a general debate. It was delivered by video by Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson. He stated: 

‘In 2020, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal enabled a near-total abortion ban. We see Ukrainian refugees in Poland seeking an abortion facing insurmountable barriers to access the healthcare they need, even in cases of rape.

‘In Malta, we are pleased that the Government has taken steps to ease restrictions on its abortion laws, although it will remain far too restrictive. We echo the call of Maltese activists to expand the law further to include, at a minimum, cases of rape or incest, or foetal anomaly. We are disappointed to learn of the open letter to the Prime Minister, signed by a small number of UK parliamentarians, opposing the proposals.

‘Dr Ahmed Shaheed, the previous Special Rapporteur on FoRB, states that freedom of religion or belief guarantees women’s rights to bodily autonomy and conscientious choice, and that FoRB cannot be invoked to support intolerant and patriarchal claims that deny women and girls their sexual and reproductive health and rights.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

Read the full intervention

Read more about our international work.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.