Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, an organization that has worked on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada for over 50 years (formerly Planned Parenthood of Canada) stands with colleagues in the US in expressing outrage over the leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The decision is wrong and will harm millions of people.
It is our human right to be able to make health care decisions that impact our lives, health, and future.
Roe v. Wade is the 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing access to abortion as a constitutional right in the United States. This decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will return the legality of abortion to individual states, many of which are waiting for this moment to enact severe restrictions to abortion services–which will disproportionately impact Black, working class, disabled, and 2SLGBTQIA+ people seeking abortion care. Guttmacher Institute estimates that more than half of all states will enact restrictive abortion laws once Roe v. Wade is formally overturned.
The impacts of this decision will be inequitable, devastating, and indicative of the attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights happening around the world.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade by a politicized judiciary is an example of the overtaking of democratic institutions by a small faction of fundamentalists around the world who are leading a global backlash on sexual and reproductive health and rights. We see it in the US today, but we have also seen it in Poland, in Russia, in Hungary, and in many more countries in the last decade.
Although the context in Canada is different, the people most impacted by this decision are the same people who are most affected by barriers to abortion access in Canada. We see the impact directly through our Norma Scarborough Emergency Fund, which has provided financial support for over a decade to hundreds of people in Canada who would otherwise not have had access to the abortion care they need, want, and have a right to.
In Canada, private member bills also continue to attempt to restrict abortion in Canada, and 25% of current Members of Parliament have voted in favour of such restrictions. Anti-abortion movements are transnational, well-funded, and well-resourced and they are poised to organize and challenge the right to abortion in Canada.
Anti-abortion organizers worked for 20 years to overturn Roe v. Wade, and it would be naive to ignore the impact of these movements on abortion access in Canada.
Canada must remain a steadfast champion of human rights and democracy and we can only do that if we continue our work to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights—including the right to accessible abortion—at home and globally. We have seen people-led victories for abortion in countries like Argentina, Mexico, and Ireland, reminding us of the power and importance of fighting for abortion rights and access.
We cannot grow silent. We must stay vigilant in defending and protecting the right to abortion and accessible abortion care.
Action Canada is Canada’s Planned Parenthood. We work across Canada and globally to fill the gaps in access and advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights. From local hospitals to Parliament Hill to the UN Human Rights Council, we are there advocating for abortion rights and access. We follow the lead of Black and Indigenous activists and organizations who have created the reproductive justice framework for understanding SRHR beyond choice. Reproductive justice is the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. Reproductive justice includes access to safe and affordable housing, economic equality, climate justice, and dismantling systems of oppression.
Join us in advocating for human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, for all.
Together, we can make sure abortion rights are guaranteed in Canada and continue the fight for access globally!
Related links for further reading:
- If Roe v. Wade Falls: Travel Distance for People Seeking Abortion (Guttmacher Institute)
- Majority of Conservative MPs vote in favour of defeated sex-selective abortion bill (CTV News)
- List of Anti-choice Groups in Canada (Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada)
- Rights at Risk: Time for Action (Association for Women's Rights in Development)
- Action Canada at the Sexual Rights Initiative
- To Be Pro-Choice, You Must Have the Privilege of Having Choices (Monica Simpson)
- How you can take action for abortion rights in Canada