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'Angry, hurt, hopeless': Here is how Yukoners are feeling after the Roe v. Wade overturn

Around 40 Yukoners got together at Rotary Park in Whitehorse to share their thoughts and feelings on the Roe v Wade overturn on abortion rights in the United States.

Around 40 Yukoners got together at Rotary Park in Whitehorse last week

Brooke Graham stands in Rotary Park on Thursday, June 30.
Brooke Graham, who has family members in the United States, said she's feeling 'uneasy' with the Roe v. Wade overturn and what it means for Canadians. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)

Earlier this year, Brooke Graham, a Whitehorse resident, had an emergency hysterectomy – a surgical procedure to remove her uterus due to a large fibroid.

Fibroids are noncancerous growths of smooth muscle cells in the uterus that often appear during childbearing years.

Although it wasn't an easy decision to remove her uterus, it was a necessary procedure to have a "healthier life," said Graham.

Now, she's constantly thinking about women's reproductive rights, health and the lack of research in the field.

People form a circle outside on grass.
Around 40 Yukoners got together at Rotary Park in Whitehorse to share their thoughts and feelings on the Roe v Wade overturn on abortion rights in the United States. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

"I think about if there weren't these types of options ... if there hadn't been an option for me, or a choice for me, to say that I don't want children," she said.

Graham was one of the 40 individuals who spent their lunch hour at Whitehorse's Rotary Park on June 30 voicing support for abortion rights.

People in the crowd shared their thoughts on the United States Supreme Court's recent decision to overturn Roe v Wade – the landmark ruling that used to guarantee the right to abortion for more than 50-years in the country.

"I'm feeling a lot of [feelings]. A lot of anger, a lot of rage, a lot of sadness and grief and a real sense of uneasiness of what does the future hold even here in Canada," said Graham who is also thinking of the women she supports through her work at the Women's Transition Home and her family who lives in the United States.

The ruling in the U.S. has caused a polarizing discussion across North American, sparking all kinds of emotions from shock, rage, fury, and more. That's why Thursday's event focused on venting emotions and "feeling the feels," as Sofia Ashley, the gathering organizer and executive director of the Whitehorse' Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre, said.

"We really feel firmly about any person who's capable of giving birth, having the choice to make the decision about what happens to their body, to their livelihood and to their family," said Ashley. 

Sofia Ashley speaking on the microphone
Sofia Ashley addressing the group of 40 people who attended the 'Roe V. Wade: Feel Your Feels' gathering on Thursday, June 30. She is the executive director of the Whitehorse' Victoria Faulkner Women's Center and Thursday's event organizer. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)

Currently, there is abortion access in the Yukon and across Canada. However, Ashley and those in attendance believe this right should not be taken for granted.

Mercedes Bacon-Traplin said she went to the park looking for support, hoping the gathering will offer solidarity and a sense of community.

"I know a lot of women are having a hard time ... not just women, people with uterus are having a hard time processing this and I am too," she said. "I wanted to come here just to know I'm not alone in that feeling."

Bacon-Traplin said it's hard to pick "one feeling" as this is something she had never seen before.

"It fluctuates between really angry, really hurt, feeling kind of hopeless, sometimes feeling determined," she said.

She is also afraid abortion rights could be overturned in Canada as well.

"I think a lot of people are under the misconception that what's happening in the States will not affect us in Canada, when historically that's been proven to be not the case," she said.

"So, I really want [abortion rights legislation] to be codified. I really want it to be written into our law, to the ends of the earth, written in stone."

During the hour-long gathering, the big group of participants stood in a circle for a body movement exercise to "regulate the nervous system," said Ashley. Followed by a sharing activity in smaller circles where people expressed their thoughts and support for one another. 

The group's main message was to give people the choice to choose.

Supporting Alaskans

Kate White, the leader of the Yukon New Democratic Party, was also in attendance. 

Kate White smiling at the camera
Kate White is the leader of the Yukon New Democratic Party. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC)

She said this is a crucial moment for the United States, Canada, and internationally to understand what this ruling means for body autonomy and a "person's ability to make the choice that's best for them."

"Unfortunately, politicians [have] stereotypes. And it's because there's times where people make decisions for others that they have no business making. In this situation, we talk about abortion, abortion rights and safe access. This is one where people like myself have to speak up and we have to say this is critical," she said. 

White said although abortion procedures are still legal in Alaska, the Yukon has a responsibility — and should be ready — to support Alaskans if the state decides to ban the procedure.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sissi De Flaviis

Reporter/Editor

Sissi De Flaviis is a Venezuelan-born reporter/editor for CBC News in Whitehorse, Yukon. She previously worked at CBC Ottawa. Contact her at sissi.de.flaviis@cbc.ca

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