January 23rd, 2015
January 22 was the anniversary of Roe vs Wade; the American legal decision that ruled women should have the option to choose an abortion as part of reproductive health care services.
There are many in the States who have never accepted that 1973 ruling. Anti-abortion groups have and continue to do all they can to limit women’s access to sexual health services, including abortion options. They take their views to extreme measures- abortion care providers have been killed for their work in pursuit of the anti-choice cause.
“Anti-choice activists have never hid the fact that they want Roe v. Wade overturned…. It’s hard to think of one of the many nightmare scenarios of what life would be like in a post-Roe world that isn’t already taking place somewhere in this country.”
Letters to Justice Blackmun Offer Glimpse of Public’s Post-‘Roe’ Reactions gives a view into the conflicted feelings people have about abortion vs the important rights of women to steer their reproductive lives. People may be strongly pro-choice for women’s rights in general, but not in favour of abortion for themselves. A decision about an abortion is not necessarily pro-kid or anti-kid either- six in ten American women having abortions already have kids.
Here in Canada our history of abortion is also littered with violence against abortion providers, criminal charges and jail stays for those determined to support women’s rights to reproductive choices. Abortion is legal and theoretically available, although in reality this isn’t always the case. Women living on Prince Edward Island must leave the province to get an abortion, and abortion care is often available only in larger urban areas, making it difficult for those who live in rural areas. Accessing care is especially hard for women with less money- true for lots of health issues.
And we can’t assume abortion is a guarantee here, either. In 2012 a Conservative MP introduced a motion to examine when life begins. This type of move could lead to pitting the rights of a pregnant woman against those of a fetus she’s carrying. Thankfully, the motion was defeated. In a piece last year, authors Paul Saurette and Kelly Gordon suggest
“A renewed [abortion] debate might not only serve to further solidify abortion rights… It might also be an opportunity to press politicians to finally reduce the remaining barriers to access across Canada.”
When and if it arises, I hope it solidifies access and improves conditions. Women deserve it. If you want read more on the politics of abortion, read this great interview with Katha Pollitt about her book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.
Photo: MarcoMaru, MorgueFile