'This will have ramifications north of the border': Winnipeg clinic speaks out against Roe v. Wade draft opinion
A women's health clinic in Winnipeg says it will continue to provide care for Americans seeking abortions north of the border, regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that could end the nationwide protection of abortion rights.
A draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court, which was obtained and published by Politico on Monday, revealed a majority of justices are in favour of striking down the Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling.
The opinion is not final until the formal vote which is expected in June. If it does pass, Kemlin Nembhard, executive director of the Women's Health Clinic in Winnipeg, said it will have an impact in Canada.
"This will have ramifications north of the border – whether it is having women coming and access care here, or just that sort of rhetoric coming to the north," Nembhard told CTV News.
Nembhard said the clinic already provides abortion care to people outside Manitoba, including those crossing the border. She said they will continue to do this if Roe v. Wade is struck down. However, she said the clinic has limited resources.
"We could never meet all of their needs, and that is also not the answer," she said. "The answer is that governments need to make laws that make sure to support all of the people that live in their countries. If this law were to pass the way it is, you know if it is struck down, that does not meet the needs of 50 per cent of their population."
Nembhard said a decision like the one being considered in the United States will have a greater impact on marginalized and racialized women who don't have the financial resources to access abortions.
"We can never forget that women in the past died to get abortions, were dying to get abortions. And if this passes, that will happen again," Nembhard said.
In Canada, abortion is legal. The Supreme Court of Canada determined in 1988 that the law at the time against abortion was unconstitutional and violated Charter rights.
"Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a foetus (sic) to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman's body and thus an infringement of security of the person," Chief Justice Brian Dickson wrote in the 1988 decision.
In Manitoba, the cost of an abortion for residents is covered through Manitoba Health. However, Nembhard said even in Canada, the care is not equally accessible, and more work is needed to improve and enhance the laws.
She said if Roe v. Wade is struck down, the clinic will be fighting to change that and ensure something similar does not happen in Canada.
"We will always stand shoulder to shoulder and toe to toe with our sisters south of the border, and anywhere in the world, to try and ensure that people have access to the safe care that they need," she said.