Canada must focus on access & education as reproductive rights are threatened

Even though abortion is legal in Canada, access and information issues create barriers to care

Affirming rights to abortion healthcare means prioritizing people over ideologies

Canadians are watching as the freedom to choose faces its biggest threat in decades across the border in the United States.

The leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft stated the court’s intention to overturn its 1973 ruling in the Roe v. Wade case upholding the constitutional right to abortion healthcare. News of the court’s intention to set reproductive freedom back by decades has sparked large protests and public backlash in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Though the right to choose is not directly under attack in Canada, reproductive health care is not accessible everywhere in the country and is often absent from sex education curricula.

There is a long way to go before society respects the emotional and physical labour associated with pregnancy and distinct from parenthood. In the meantime, humanizing people who choose to access abortion care is integral to reducing stigma and increasing access. We can’t keep choosing personal and religious beliefs over people’s well-being.

Having options and being able to choose is essential for pregnant people, including those who do not seek abortions. Given its physical and mental demands, pregnancy should never feel like a trap. Having options available and an opportunity to make informed decisions will reduce trauma associated with unplanned pregnancies and minimize suffering.

What everyone who gets pregnant deserves is to have their personhood be respected. This respect comes in the form of providing options and education on those options. A wholistic, integrated view of reproductive and sexual health is necessary for progress.

If our government truly values equitable health care, it will see this critical moment in the fight for reproductive rights and respond by ensuring Canadians have the tools to plan families. This is especially relevant in rural and marginalized communities.

Instead of looking smugly at the circumstances our neighbours are facing, we should be working to affirm the right to abortion health care in our own country.

The precarious state of reproductive rights in the U.S. should prompt the Canadian government to affirm the right to choose here at home. More than just legal, abortion health care must be accessible and understood by the public. 

—Journal Editorial Board

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