Calgary pro-choice rally held in wake of potential Roe v. Wade overruling
Some attendees concerned that what’s happening in the United States could impact Canada
Around 200 people gathered on Sunday at Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary to show their support for access to abortion and reproductive rights in the province.
The rally follows news from the U.S. earlier this month in which a leaked draft of the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade sparked protests and conversations about how ripple effects of the ruling could impact Canada.
Overturning the 1973 decision would give states authority to decide abortion's legality. Roughly half of them, largely in the U.S. South and Midwest, are likely to quickly ban abortion.
Adora Statuesse-Nwofor is an organizer of the Calgary event. She thinks that what's happening in the United States will have repercussions in Canada.
"It 100 per cent affects the decisions that are being made here," said Statuesse-Nwofor.
"Canada very often does what happens in the States, or at least people are influenced by the ideas that are being shared [there]."
She said the issue goes beyond just access to abortion, and reflects broader truths about the fragile state of public reproductive health care in Alberta in general, citing her own years-long struggle to get a hysterectomy.
"I was not given the health care that I needed. There are too many of us who have had horrific experiences being pregnant, having children and navigating health care."
While there are there are no laws barring women in Canada from having an abortion, it's also not considered a constitutionally protected right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Wendy Walker, an Indigenous singer-songwriter who performed at the event, said that while she isn't worried about changes to abortion access occurring under Canada's current government, she is concerned about future policy shifts.
"Maybe there's some kind of a law that [could be] put in place that protects women's rights to determine what happens over our bodies."
Walker added that oftentimes, it's people of colour and those of lower socio-economic status who are impacted the most by curtailments on reproductive rights.
While the Supreme Court's draft decision is not yet final, data analyzed by the Associated Press showed that if abortions in the United States are further restricted or banned, minority women will bear the brunt of it.
Becki McLean said she attended the event on Saturday in part to remind the Canadian government not to fall back on the progress that has already been made.
"R. vs. Morgentaler was a fight that Albertan women fought really hard to get approved," said McLean.
"We fought really hard to have access to abortion clinics that didn't involve a panel of male doctors to tell us what was right for our bodies. This is something we don't want to take lightly and see go away by the chipping away of different bills that are passed."
The 1988 R. vs. Morgentaler ruling — Canada's own top abortion rights case — was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of Canada which held that the abortion provision in the Criminal Code was unconstitutional because it violated women's rights under section seven of the Canadian Charter.
With files from Helen Pike