The Current

Could the U.S. abortion battle spill over to Canada? The answer's a bit murky: writer

With abortion rights under fire in the U.S., could a similar debate happen here in Canada? We speak with CBC columnist Robyn Urback.

CBC columnist Robyn Urback weighs in on the broiling debate

Thousands of demonstrators protest a state decision that would effectively halt abortions by revoking the license of the last centre in the state that performs the procedure, during a rally in St. Louis, Mo., on Thursday. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

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As several U.S. states claw back abortion laws in a campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision that legalized a woman's right to have the procedure — one CBC columnist says it's unclear where that debate will lead north of the border.

"It's hard not to look at what's going on in the United States and to think, well, there's incredible momentum happening there. It's something that we can potentially mimic here," Robyn Urback told The Current's guest host Katie Simpson.

"The difference is that Canada is a very different landscape — politically, legally, culturally."

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his concerns to U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence about what he called the "anti-choice" movement. A total of 16 states introduced legislation this year to restrict abortion rights.

Despite the movement in the U.S., "the status quo has not changed" in Canada, Urback said.

She noted under Stephen Harper's leadership, the former prime minister frequently said he did not want to reopen the debate on abortion, and voted against two Conservative proposals related to pregnancy and unborn children.

"That is not to say of course ... that it wouldn't necessarily go the other way, it's just that we're not necessarily in uncharted territory," Urback said.

Anti-abortion protesters rally near a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia, on May 10. Attempts by some U.S. states to claw back abortion laws have sparked a polarizing debate about the procedure across the country. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

To discuss the abortion debate that's unfolding in the United States and what it means for Canada, Simpson spoke to:

  • Alissa Golob, co-founder of Right Now, a Canadian pro-life organization.
  • Anne Kingston, a senior writer and columnist for Maclean's magazine.
  • Robyn Urback, an opinion columnist for CBC News.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.


Written by Kirsten Fenn. With files from CBC News. Produced by Sarah-Joyce Battersby, Samira Mohyeddin and Ines Colabrese.

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