The 1970 Abortion Caravan: Celebrating 50 Years

Photo of the abortion caravan in 1970

In May 1970, seventeen women set out on a cross-country trek from Vancouver to Ottawa to reject Canada’s criminal abortion law and demand legal reform. They stopped in cities and towns along the way, performing acts of guerilla theatre to show how women were suffering and dying from so-called “back-alley abortions”. When the Caravaners arrived in Ottawa and no government leaders would meet with them, they chained themselves to House of Commons’ gallery seats and shut down Parliament for the first time in Canadian history. Their actions mobilized vast public support that bolstered feminist battles in the courts and the streets in the ‘70s and ‘80s, which eventually decriminalized abortion in Canada.

On Mother’s Day weekend fifty years later—11 May 2020—a coalition of feminists marked the Caravan’s significance in Canadian history by embarking on a virtual “trek” of our own – “2020 Abortion Caravan”, so to speak. Co-editors Jaime Nikolaou and Robyn Schwarz launched “Then and Now: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the 1970 Abortion Caravan” – a project comprised of a series of position papers that showcase how pro-choice organizing in Canada has evolved from 1970 onwards. These papers can be explored individually, via each of the links below. Upon completion and as a whole, they will collectively showcase our movement’s gains, concerns and current demands. Please download and share widely!

The 2020 Abortion Caravan Position Papers: 

Preface: Editors' Thoughts  A Word of Thanks from Two Feminists for Whom Abortion Has Always Been Legal

Decolonize Abortion Care: Reproductive Justice for Indigenous Communities

New Brunswick Must Fully Fund Abortion: #SaveClinic554

Abortion Care Includes Trans and Gender Non-Binary People

Coming soon! 

Abortion Rights Activism in Canada: 1970 to Present

Expanding Abortion Care Training and Provision 

International Solidarity and Abortion Access 

Comprehensive Sex Education and Abortion Care for Youth 

Countering Opponents 

Destigmatizing Abortion in Canada 

Posted on 2020-05-12
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