Abortion rights were making big news south of the border this past June when bans were announced in multiple U.S. states. The one that got the most media attention was the Alabama abortion ban, which would restrict all abortions unless the woman’s life was at risk. This sprouted mass protests all around the country and caused a lot of worries for women in Canada as well:
“Reading about the numerous abortion bans in the States was beyond horrifying. Even as a Canadian, it felt like it was right next door,” said pro-choice advocate Ryann Cook.
However, on October 29, 2019, due to the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union, the proposed bans in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, and Utah were all blocked.
The initial institution of the bans had some people comparing them to the dystopian future found in Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, and the worry that women’s bodily autonomy may be stripped away is still present here in Canada.
Nineteen-year-old Niagara MPP Sam Oosterhoff made headlines when he began calling for abortion bans in the wake of the American bans. During the recent federal election debates, Liberal candidate, now prime minister, Justin Trudeau and NDP candidate Jagmeet Singh questioned Conservative candidate Andrew Scheer about his plans for abortion laws.
However, Scheer stated he had no plans to change the laws and bans like those seen in the U.S. are next to impossible to institute in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada decided that abortion was legal in 1988. Since criminal law in Canada is controlled by the federal government, provinces can not have specific bans. This does not mean that there are not issues here.
Accessibility for women who do not live in large cities is still difficult. Some provinces choose to not fund clinics, and only have abortions available in hospitals.
Although the ACLU’s victory does not directly affect Canadians, it seems to have reassured some Canadian women. “I am thankful that I will never wake up in the morning and see my rights to my own body have been taken away or changed,” explained Ontario student and pro-choice advocate Arlene Campbell.
If you or a friend need non-biased information about birth control, your reproductive rights, or safe abortions, Planned Parenthood has an online chat service where they answer all of your questions anonymously. Click here or visit their website for more information.