'Abortion is healthcare': Canadians protest the Roe v. Wade reversal in U.S., but advocates reveal where Canada is failing

·5 min read

The weekend was filled with Canadians protesting the Roe v. Wade reversal in the U.S., and local advocates want more acton for sexual and reproductive health rights in Canada.

"Let’s stand in solidarity with U.S. activists fighting for reproductive justice, but also take action here at home," a statement from Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada reads. "How can we help Americans coming to Canada for abortions when we don’t even have enough access ourselves?"

"That’s especially the case for the most marginalized, including Indigenous, transgender, 2SLGBTQI+, immigrant, and youth communities. Now is the time for both B.C. and the federal government to fund an expansion of SRH and abortion care and train more providers."

Organizations in B.C. are calling for the provincial government to make contraception free (in the province and across Canada), have comprehensive sex education in schools, improve abortion access in rural and remote areas, and make sexual and reproductive health care more trans and gender-inclusive.

Additionally, advocates are requesting the federal government to enforce the Canada Health Act against provinces that fail to provide accessible or fully funded sexual and reproductive health care or abortion. They are also calling for revoked charitable status for anti-choice group, guaranteed asylum and immunity to abortion providers and advocates fleeing violence, criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits for their reproductive justice work.

"We see many Canadian politicians standing up and declaring their support for abortion rights. This is absolutely necessary, and important to reassure Canadians that their right to an abortion is not in peril," a statement from Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Chair and Co-Founder of the AccessBC Campaign reads.

"But we need more than just words, we need action supporting real access to reproductive justice. It’s time to tackle the ongoing problems with our own sexual and reproductive health services. Let’s see governments work hard to tear down barriers that people continue to face when trying to access sexual and reproductive health."

The Abortion Right Coalition of Canada is encourage Canadians to reach out to their local provincial/territorial and federal representatives to urge them to address sexual and reproductive health issues, including funding and access to abortions.

Several Canadians have also taken to social media to call out statements around Canada needing an "abortion law."

Action Canada for Sexual and Human Rights warns that an abortion law in Canada would "politicize this medical procedure in a way that no other medical procedures are politicized."

"If the government tries to create a bill to guarantee the right to abortion, it will open the door to anti-choice politicians trying to put limits on abortion for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with science or medical need," a statement from Action Canada reads.

"There are many politicians that are already trying to bring in private members’ bills that would limit access to abortion. A new law could make it easier to propose amendments or limits that so far, have never succeeded."

The organization urges the federal government to enforce the Canada Health Act, which establishes that abortions should be accessible across the Canada, but more action needs to be taken to address any limits in provinces.

In Canada, abortion access differs across the country, particularly when most clinics are in larger urban centres, making the procedure more difficult to access for individuals in more remote areas.

In New Brunswick, for example, three hospitals in the province perform abortions, one in Bathurst and two in Moncton. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has also filed a lawsuit last year over barriers to abortion access, claiming that is a violation of the Canada Health Act.

"Abortion is healthcare. And we are lucky that in Canada most Canadians have access to abortion services through provincial healthcare systems," the CCLA wrote on Twitter.

"This is not true in New Brunswick - 90% of New Brunswickers do not have adequate access to abortion services. [New Brunswick's government] has restricted abortion services to three hospitals in two cities - CCLA is currently in court to restore access to abortion services to all New Brunswickers."

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