Nova Scotia

Sadness, anger at abortion rights rally in downtown Halifax

People turned out in their numbers for a rally on Spring Garden Road to protest the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn a 1973 ruling protecting abortion rights.

Rally follows U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

More than 60 people turned up for a reproductive rights rally in Halifax on Saturday. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Kim Wall decided to attend a rally for abortion rights and access in Halifax on Saturday because the right to make a choice about pregnancy helped shape her life.

Wall recalled that at age 15 she became pregnant and didn't know what to do.

She said she approached her guidance counsellor at school. The counsellor introduced her to two girls who had given up their babies for adoption, two girls who chose to have abortions and two families that had adopted babies.

It gave her the information she needed to make an informed choice about what to do with her body, Wall said. She chose adoption.

Kim Wall says she is heartbroken by the U.S. Supreme Court decision. (Victoria Welland/CBC)

"It's our choice," a sobbing Wall said. "It's our body. How's the clock going back?"

"Here I am now 40 years later and I'm watching that choice disappear. I can't. My heart is broken. Just broken."

More than 60 people turned out for the rally on Spring Garden Road that was organized by Gender Affirming Care Nova Scotia. 

The rally comes after Friday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade court decision that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy. 

Martha Paynter is a registered nurse and board chair of Wellness Within, a non-profit reproductive justice organization. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Martha Paynter spoke at the rally. She is a registered nurse and chair of Wellness Within, a non-profit reproductive justice organization.

She said many Canadians are confused about what the U.S. court ruling means for them. As an abortion care provider, teacher and researcher, her hope is to spread hope and ideas for action.

Paynter said abortion is completely decriminalized in Canada unlike the U.S.

"There are case upon case, upon case, upon case that reaffirm we have the right to govern our bodies and we do not want an abortion law to be created as abortion care providers," she said.

"That would only circumscribe what we are able to do and create the potential for someone to take that law away."

Nova Scotia has made "incredible inroads" in the area of abortion rights, she said. Since 2018, people have been able to call a centralized self-referral line from anywhere in the province to be connected with care immediately, she said. 

Dr. Lianne Yoshida is medical director of the QEII's Women's Choice Clinic. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Dr. Lianne Yoshida, medical director of the QEII's Women's Choice Clinic, said she wants to see the normalization of abortion and to get more people talking about it.

Yoshida said she has been helping patients get access to safe, publicly funded abortion for 22 years, first in Ontario and now in Nova Scotia.

"What would have happened to all of those people I helped if they couldn't have an abortion that I provided," she said.

The rally came one day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Yoshida said Canadians who find themselves sad or angry about the court decision should consider supporting Canadian non-profits that are working for reproductive justice. 

People need to keep being aware of rights, access and equality for everyone. 

"It goes to all aspects of our society and for anti-racism and economic justice and equality.... I think it's all part of the same issues," Yoshida said.

With files from Victoria Welland