In the face of news out of the United States that Roe v. Wade could be overturned, CUPE Ontario sends a message of solidarity to outraged and frightened allies south of the border.
We know that such a decision will unnecessarily endanger the lives of so many, with one recent analysis warning that a total abortion ban in the United States would increase pregnancy-related deaths by 21%. We know that would disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, racialized, and low-income people most of all. We know that this is the time to loudly say that “abortion is healthcare” and that “you can’t ban abortion – you can only ban safe abortion.”
And we also know that our solidarity is rooted in a shared struggle – the struggle over reproductive justice that crosses borders, however different we might think things are here.
Though abortion has been legal in Canada since 1988, it has never been equally nor fully accessible. Most abortion services are concentrated in cities, with Ontario having only four rural clinics offering these critical services. Some clinics or hospitals have limits on how far into the pregnancy they’ll perform an abortion at, forcing people, especially in rural areas, to secure lengthy and costly transportation to urban clinics.
In some parts of the country, you have to pay out of pocket for an abortion, a violation of the Canada Health Act. And in others, due to stigma and underfunding, abortion pills will not be prescribed.
Today, it’s not lost on us that in this provincial election, now in full swing, the Ford Conservatives include eight anti-choice candidates.
Instead of assuring us that Ontario won’t follow the lead of provinces which do not fund abortions in private clinics, forcing many between impossible choices, the Ford Conservatives have avoided important questions.
Instead of committing to ensuring access to safe abortions in rural regions, Doug Ford has said: “We’re not changing anything in Ontario. We’re keeping it exactly the same.”
The status quo isn’t good enough. It’s not good enough because full access to a safe abortion has never been the reality here in Canada. And it’s not good enough because, with the rapid erosion of reproductive rights in the United States, standing still on either side of the border could mean losing ground.