Q and A: Could a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade impact Canadian abortion law?
The US Supreme Court has ordered an investigation into the leak of a draft decision suggesting it may overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case. The 1973 ruling legalized abortion in the U.S.
The potential decision has been met with outcry from abortion activists.
To find out more, CTV Kitchener’s Leighanne Evans spoke with TK Pritchard, executive director of the SHORE Centre (formerly Planned Parenthood) in Waterloo region.
I want to start with your reaction. Tell me how you felt when you first heard about this.
I mean, I think a lot of us who are following the reproductive rights movement nationally and internationally are not shocked to see this happen, however it’s still devastating to see it come to fruition and really kind of grapple with the impacts it’s going to have on abortion access. So it is an incredibly difficult piece to deal with.
Can you talk a little bit about the harm it could cause and the people who will be impacted most by this decision?
When you look at access within the U.S. there are at least 25 or more states who are ready to either absolutely outright ban or almost ban abortion access entirely. Large portions of the country will have literally no access.
There is a real risk for folks to not be able to access any type of abortion without significant travel. We know that those who are most impacted are those who will not financially be able to travel and access abortion services, and folks who face other oppressions.
We also know that the stigma that this type of decision raises and the debate it reopens about abortion, overall impacts people’s ability to safely access abortion both in the US and beyond, and so we know that there’ll be impacts across the board, and it’s going to be a difficult time in the abortion access world.
Obviously this is something that’s happening south of the border, but there’s been lots of talk already about this here at home as well. Do you have any concerns about this decision impacting Canadian abortion law?
So the legal landscape for abortion in Canada is quite different, however there are many politicians and folks in positions of power who are very openly anti-choice and would love to reopen conversations about abortion. So I think it’s important that we look at the precedent that this sets and also again how it impacts the social landscape of abortion.
In Canada, the real issue is that there’s no access in many places. Clinics are very far apart, people are travelling quite far, in some communities there’s no access at all. And so when we see these conversations come back up, it can mean there will be more pushback against increased access. It really emboldens anti-choice activists, not only in the US but also in Canada. And so I think we’re really quite concerned about what this means for anti-choice movements, what this means for stopping progress on increasing access, and again does it encourage some folks to reopen the conversation on abortion and what that looks like in our country.
Since we’ve found out about this, we’ve seen some protests and many people have been vocal online as well. What has your reaction been to some of the stories you’ve been reading?
You know people are mad, they’re outraged, and I understand. This is real backwards movement for abortion access, it’s one of those things that you look at and wonder, how can this be possible? And I think they should be mad, you know I completely understand why there is a protest, why there is outrage. Our organization feels it as well.
I think this is the type of thing where we need to make it clear that we support abortion access, that we support bodily autonomy. And I think people do need to be loud and continue to be loud that this is something that we want protected not only in Canada but also beyond.
Finally, for anyone looking to access resources here at home, do you have any advice on where they could turn to?
Absolutely. SHORE Centre offers an online tool, it’s called choiceconnect.ca, it’s nation-wide so if you’re looking for a provider within Canada you can absolutely go on there and look for your nearest provider and gain information about them. Also we have national partners such as the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and Action Canada for Reproductive and Sexual Rights who also can provide that same information.