March held in Saskatoon to support Americans who lost access to abortion

About 100 people marched in Saskatoon Monday in a show of solidarity with people who lost access to abortion in the United States.

Activists also raised concerns about abortion access in Saskatchewan

People hold up signs at a march in Saskatoon Monday to support Americans after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. (Yasmine Ghania/CBC)

About 100 people marched in Saskatoon Monday in a show of solidarity with people who lost access to abortion in the United States.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade opinion that secured constitutional protections for abortion in the country for nearly 50 years.

"It's in support of the people going through the struggle right now as well as it's a protest to make sure that we can work our way toward more access and better safety measures in relation to abortion care," said march co-organizer Cassidy Povelko. 

Angie Kells, executive director of Saskatoon Abortion Support Network (SASN), said the overturning of Roe v. Wade "felt like being punched in the stomach." 

SASN is a group of volunteers who assist people before, during and after abortion. At the march, Kells spoke about the "sorry state of abortion in Saskatchewan."

People who live in northern Saskatchewan or rural areas may have to travel several hours for the procedure, as surgical abortions are only available in Saskatoon and Regina.

March co-organizer Cassidy Povelko said Monday’s event was to support Americans who lost access to abortion and to improve abortion access in Canada. (Yasmine Ghania/CBC)

Timelines for an abortion also vary in the province. A person can get a surgical abortion while up to 18 weeks and six days pregnant in Regina, but only up to 12 weeks pregnant in Saskatoon. 

Meanwhile, provinces such as Alberta, B.C. and Ontario, have longer timeframes. In B.C., a surgical abortion can be provided up to 24 weeks. 

Medication-induced abortions are available up to nine weeks of pregnancy across the province.

However Kells also raised the issue that not all Saskatchewan doctors will prescribe the abortion pill known as Mifegymiso in Canada, and not all pharmacies will stock or fill a prescription for it. 

Vicki Mowat, the NDP Health Critic and Saskatoon Fairview MLA, attended the march and took shots at the Saskatchewan government. 

"The Sask Party government is not working to ensure access to abortion. And in fact, several cabinet members are anti-choice," Mowat said.

Premier Scott Moe has repeatedly stated that he is "pro-life" but has said that his position or any other caucus member's position has no bearing on government policy or laws in Canada. 

In May 2021, the NDP's status of women critic Jennifer Bowes put forward a proposed bill that would enact safe access zones around abortion clinics to prevent harassment and intimidation.

The opposition plans to raise the bill again when the Legislative Assembly sits in October. 

Six provinces have already passed what are known as "bubble zone" laws