Queen’s staffer establishes pro-choice advocacy group

Kingston Voice for Choice aims to raise awareness and protest peacefully

Kingston Voice for Choice to host sign-making party ahead of pro-life protests.

Meghan Engbretson, a former Queen’s student and current study coordinator at the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, decided to create a pro-choice advocacy group in Kingston after finding a lack of representation on the issue.

Formally created in September, Voice for Choice is a group based in Kingston that focuses on political and educational advocacy for reproductive rights and health issues. Though the group is not a student club on campus, Engbretson hopes to recruit representatives from Queen’s to join Voice for Choice.

In an interview with The Journal, Engbretson said while there are a number of sexual assault support groups in Kingston, there isn’t one that focuses on abortion rights.

“There isn’t a vocal pro-choice group,” she said.

While abortion is legal in Canada, Engbretson said accessibility is still different between the provinces and territories.

“There are 38 providers across Ontario right now, but those are for early abortions,” she said.

Engbretson added that there’s only one late-term abortion provider in Canada, and that if women want to have an abortion after 24 weeks, they must travel to the States.

There are only four providers in Ontario’s rural communities, Engbretson added. She said people living in places like Northern Ontario don’t have the same access as someone living in Kingston. For instance, some clinics require a referral from a family doctor.

Engbretson said there will also be a protest hosted by Life Chain, a pro-life organization, all across Canada on Oct. 6.

“It is important to have the other side represented in a peaceful protest,” she said.

As a response, Engbretson said Voice for Choice will set up a sign-making party before the Life Chain protest on Oct.6 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm.

“The goal of the group is to provide support for everyone who wants to be involved in abortion rights locally,” she said. “Eventually, I would like to have volunteers trained to be escorts and support for women who are considering abortion or have had abortions, and students who may not have family here.”

“A number of students have volunteered to assist in the sign-making party on Sunday and for general assistance going forward, which is amazing,” she added.

Currently, Voice for Choice relies on similar organizations located in Ontario and Canada for direction and assistance, Engbretson said.

“We will be hosting a round-table style meeting later this year to brainstorm future directions,” she said.

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