4 Women On What It Was Like Before Abortion Was Decriminalized In Canada
Yes, access has radically improved since 1988—but we can’t be complacent.
by Rachel Chen
Updated Jan 7, 2020
Abortion was decriminalized in Canada in 1988, after pro-choice advocate Dr. Henry Morgentaler successfully challenged the constitutionality of Canada’s abortion law. Three decades later, access to both medical and surgical abortion isn’t perfect—especially for women in rural areas—but it’s radically better than what it once was. Still, as we see threats to Roe v. Wade (the landmark case that gave Americans a right to abortion) growing next door in the United States, it is important to remember how we got where we are.
Here, four women share what it was like to be faced with an unwanted pregnancy prior to 1988—and why we can never go back to such restrictive access.
How PEI Became One Of The Most Accessible Places For Women’s Health Care In Canada
Within 10 months, PEI went from having no abortion services on the island to offering self-referral. What can the province teach the rest of the country?
by Emily Baron Cadloff
Updated Nov 20, 2019
When Courtney Cudmore learned she was pregnant in 2015, she knew immediately what she would do. At 31 years old, the Charlottetown restaurant worker was already a mother of two, and her then-fiancée had taken a job out of province. She was overwhelmed and scared, and she wanted desperately not to be pregnant. Cudmore saw a doctor at a walk-in clinic, who she says told her he had a religious objection to abortion. After she pleaded with him, he reluctantly gave her a prescription for a medical abortion. She tried several pharmacies before finding one that would fill it.
“There was no way I could bring another child into the equation. What was I going to do? How was I going to feed it? Clothe it? Find room for it?” she wrote at the time on Facebook.
Stop Bill 207: “Abandoning Patients Act” Is Unconstitutional and Dangerous
November 12, 2019
Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada
ALBERTA – A bill introduced on Nov 7 in the Alberta legislature is blatantly unconstitutional because it legalizes discrimination against vulnerable groups on the basis of “conscience.”
Bill 207, misleadingly titled Conscience Rights (Health Care Providers) Protection Act, was introduced by MLA Dan Williams of Alberta’s ruling Uterus Control Party (UCP). The bill is more aptly named the Abandoning Patients Act because it is a license for medical negligence.
Under the bill, health care professionals would enjoy complete immunity for refusing to provide a health care service they disagree with for personal or religious reason (so-called “conscientious objection”). The bill removes existing patient protections, including their right to a referral, and their ability to have a complaint heard or to launch a lawsuit.
Clinic 554, Fredericton Abortion Clinic That Also Supports LGBTQ Patients, Set To Close
The clinic's director, along with Jagmeet Singh, want the federal government to intervene.
By Maija Kappler
New Brunswick’s only freestanding abortion clinic, which also provides health care to much of the province’s transgender population, is set to close.
Clinic 554 has previously relied on crowdsourced donations to stay open, and the staff sometimes forgoes payment from patients in order to provide services.
“We feel a tremendous amount of fear for our patients and the underserved communities we care for,” Clinic 554’s medical director, Dr. Adrian Edgar, said in an emotional statement posted to Facebook. “I thought I would be the family doctor for my patients until I or they died.”
The sorry state of abortion access in Saskatchewan
Sask Dispatch, by Sara Birrell
Sep 5, 2019
It has been more than 30 years since the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Morgentaler found Canada’s anti-abortion laws to be such an egregious overreach of state power that they violate Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the right to “life, liberty, and security of the person.” Since then, under the law, abortion has been treated as what it is: a morally and ethically neutral medical treatment. But while the decision ostensibly means that any pregnant person should be able to access medical (that is, induced by a drug) or surgical abortions at any time, the nature of the Canadian health-care system, which puts control of services in the hands of the provinces, means that abortion care is a patchwork that leaves many pregnant Canadians – especially those who are poor, Indigenous, young, or in rural and remote communities – to endure unwanted pregnancies.
Feds denied summer job grants to 26 groups over abortion rights issue
JOANNA SMITH, OTTAWA
THE CANADIAN PRESS
AUGUST 29, 2019
The Liberal government denied youth summer job grants to about two dozen organizations this year because officials felt they were trying to weaken or limit access to abortion or sexual and reproductive health services.
Employment and Social Development Canada said it received 39,933 for the Canada Summer Jobs program this year, with only 403 of them being deemed ineligible for the funding under new rules that say the money cannot be used to undermine human rights.
High school screening of controversial anti-abortion film draws anger
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, August 23, 2019
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- A screening of the controversial American anti-abortion film "Unplanned" scheduled for Friday evening at Saint John High School in New Brunswick has stirred up debate about the use of public spaces as a forum for contentious subject matter.
Saint John Coun. David Hickey and the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada were among those who voiced opposition to the screening booked for the school's theatre, arguing it's inappropriate to show such a film in a public institution funded by the government.
The pro-choice movement will defeat any threats to abortion rights
August 8, 2019
Canada's pro-choice movement is in good fighting form, and stronger than ever. That's the undeniable conclusion after living through the roller-coaster ride of anti-choice activity over the last three months.
First, we saw the annual March for Life on Ottawa's Parliament Hill on May 9, as well as anti-choice rallies in cities across Canada including Toronto for the first time. Many anti-choice Parliamentarians attended these events and some spoke out, including Ontario MPP Sam Oosterhoff, with his infamous comment, "We pledge to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime."
Trans -inclusive practice in B.C. sexual health and abortion clinics
Part one of a series looking at trans-inclusive sexual health care in B.C.
Aug. 3, 2019
A.J. Lowik has been thinking about and working on trans-inclusive abortion services for about 12 years. At first, Lowik, who uses the gender-neutral pronoun they, couldn’t find any information or research on the subject and this inspired the journey. Lowik pursued their masters in sociology at York University and conducted research focused on trans folks’ access to abortion and their inclusion in spaces traditionally deemed to be women-only.
Lowik also produced the Trans-Inclusive Abortion Services manual which is used in clinics across Canada. They were later asked to create one for clinics in the U.S. as well.
Activists condemn Canadian cinema chain for screening anti-abortion film
Cineplex Entertainment criticized for screening Unplanned, which is said to promote falsehoods about reproductive health
Tracey Lindeman in Ottawa
Tue 9 Jul 2019
Abortion rights defenders in Canada have accused the country’s largest cinema chain of hiding behind freedom of expression laws in order to screen a controversial US anti-choice film which has been described as “anti-abortion propaganda”.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) said Cineplex Entertainment has “made a decision based on money, not freedom of speech” by choosing to screen Unplanned. ARCC executive director Joyce Arthur said: “The movie theatres who are agreeing to show this film under the guise of free speech are publicly legitimizing anti-choice views.