Canadian women and activists are closely monitoring the abortion rights debate in the United States

As the right to a legal abortion in the United States risks being removed, women and activists in Canada are watching the heated debates south of the border while bracing for what may be linked here.

“It seems that the [U.S.] Supreme Court Justices Set to Disqualify Roe v. Wade and that, of course, opens up a Pandora’s box of nasty alternatives when it comes to women wanting to end pregnancies they don’t want to continue,” said Dr Fraser Fellows, a retired obstetrician-gynecologist who performed abortions in London, Ontario throughout her career.

For more than two years in the 1990s, anti-abortion activists picketed his home in an attempt to stop him from medical procedures.

“I know women will get desperate enough whether it’s legal or illegal,” Fellows said.

Although abortion remains one of the most controversial issues in the United States, Canadian opinion polls consistently show that more than three-quarters of those polled support a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy. .

A decision by America’s top court to end abortion services would have little practical effect on Canadians, but the political ramifications could be enormous, and people here are watching the situation closely.

Emotional reactions to potential reversal of US abortion law

Emotions ran high at the U.S. Supreme Court, where pro-choice and anti-abortion groups reacted to a leaked draft opinion showing a majority of justices favor overturning the ruling legalizing abortion in the country. 5:16

“I hope our politicians are more in tune with what the average Canadian wants in the context of providing abortion services, which is to ensure that we have legal and safe abortions for Canadian women,” said Fellows. “Certainly the large population south of our border can influence political thinking and political pathways. So hopefully it doesn’t become political football in Canada like it does in the United States.”

That’s exactly what Anna Marchand, chair of London Area Right to Life, hopes will happen.

“It gives me hope that politicians here will start thinking about the beginning of life, and maybe that will influence the way politicians think here,” Marchand said of the heated debate in the United States over a possible cancellation of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that protects the freedom to choose to have an abortion without undue government restriction.

“It’s a moral question,” Marchand said. “We don’t have a law here in Canada, so it’s different. We have to talk to politicians, to get the pro-life vote.”

Difficult access to abortion in certain regions of Canada

London has one of the largest abortion clinics in Canada, and women in this region are fortunate to have easy access to it, but others have to travel great distances to access abortions, says Robyn Schwarz , an Ontario scholar and activist who has researched abortion. access to Canada.

“Access to abortion in Canada really depends on where you live and the types of providers available in your community,” she said.

The fellowship practice has saved the lives of many women in the city, including Katie Dean.

Dean had a medically necessary abortion and has since been a pro-choice campaigner and opponent of the graphic leaflets about the fetus which some anti-abortion campaigners deliver to homes and which are displayed on large placards outside London Health Sciences Center.

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks at an abortion rights rally on Monday. A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court may be on the verge of overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade who legalized abortion. (Jason DeCrow/Associated Press)

“I have more faith in the Canadian justice system and in our own politicians. We’re more forward-thinking than the United States, overall,” Dean said. “I think we’re going to see people coming to Canada for abortions from the United States.”

Dean has already been contacted by a woman who has offered a room in her home to any American woman wishing to come to London if she cannot access abortion services in her own state.

Schwarz, however, believes Canada must be careful about the erosion of women’s rights.

“Legally, we are safe. But we tend to think, “We’re okay here,” and we really aren’t. We’re experiencing a health care access crisis at an unprecedented rate across the country, and the thing with abortion is you can’t wait six months for a procedure.”

“There are people right now who have been forced through this pandemic to carry a pregnancy to term that they didn’t want, because they couldn’t access care in their own communities, and that’s a problem.”