Repeal Abortion Rights in the United States: Canada to the Rescue?

Volunteer Kristin Hady proudly describes what makes the mandatory uniform of all her accomplices at Toledo’s abortion clinic. She has been wearing it herself for almost ten years.

The loudspeakers allow us to drown out the screams of anti-abortionists and the umbrellas used to hide the patients. It’s an incredibly effective combinationshe explains with a smile.

The choreography repeats itself at each appointment: the patient storms out of her car, head down, protected by the little army in pink, to reach the main door.

After years of fighting to secure abortion rights in a largely hostile state, volunteers prefer to view these obstacles as challenges. You have to understand that there have always been attacks on abortion rights hereexplains Kristin Hady. We’re still working in survival mode.

The local anti-abortion group recently bought the vacant parking lot across from the clinic, which is also trying to get its hands on it. But it was the highest bid that won; The group picked up the small ticket for $35,000.

An anti-abortion group parking lot is in front of the clinic. Despite the posters and the van bearing several slogans showing the group’s colors, several patients in a hurry accidentally park there. Volunteers from the clinic cannot join them as it is private land.

Photo: Radio Canada / Rose St-Pierre

Do you see that van over there?, Kristin Hardy asks, pointing to the parking lot. It’s stuffed full of photos of babies and pregnant women. A message there points out that women deserve love and support, not abortion. It’s still there, and there’s a camera in there. They write down license plates to register patients. And it’s nothing illegal.

In Ohio, the possible converse of Roe v. Wade surprised no one: Access to abortion is already a feat, according to pro-choice activists. The state, which is led by a Republican majority in both the House and Senate, regularly passes legislation restricting this right.

The problem with working in the field is that something always goes wrongsummarizes Kristin Hardy. Why organize demonstrations? There are so many issues that outrage us, it’s like choosing from a buffet of terrible things.

The day after a possible revision by the Supreme Court, two scenarios await Ohio: Abortion after six weeks of pregnancy would either be prohibited or outright illegal. Preparations are already underway at the Toledo Clinic to transfer patients to the neighboring state of Michigan.

It’s not a perfect solution. We also have to keep in mind that the states where abortion would remain legal will have many demands. We need to strengthen our relationships with clinics across the country and find drivers, plane tickets, train tickets… and fund everything.explains Kristin Hardy, who is also a member of an abortion campaign fund.

Safe Harbor States

In mid-May, a Michigan judge issued an injunction that would block the application of the abortion ban should the Supreme Court rule in that direction.

The American Midwest state could therefore welcome clandestine travelers from across the country to obtain an abortion. A solution that is not without risk for women and their helpers.

Danielle Atkinson, the “mother” of Mothering Justice, and her two children at the organization’s small office in Detroit, Michigan.

Photo: Radio Canada / Rose St-Pierre

movement mothering justicerepresenting African American mothers is preparing to enroll these patients. We will do everything we can to help themassures founder Danielle Atkinson. But we must not forget that it may be easier for those who are privileged and have resources and money. You know our rights as women of color have always been threatened.

The organization has been fighting to improve the living conditions of black women for ten years. We work on many issues, one of which is childcareshe says laughing. See, that’s why my two little ones are with us. You have a week off from school. I have no choice but to take her to work.

Outside her office window, the founder shows her son the Detroit River that separates her country from Canada. Look, we can see Windsor from here, it’s in Canadashe says to the little one. We’d love to help American women go there to terminate their pregnancy, she said as she continued the interview. But it takes a passport, a car, a network… This is not accessible to poor and marginalized women, believes Danielle Atkinson.

I think for them all the techniques that women used for abortions in the 1950s will become options again.drops the founder, her eyes on her daughter who is wisely completing a drawing.

The Ambassador Bridge connecting the cities of Detroit (left) and Windsor (right).

Photo: Getty Images/Gregory Shamus

Canada: the solution?

In early May, the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau reassured American women who waved their passports to have an abortion that they were welcome. For American Midwesterners who can afford to cross the border, the city of Windsor might become the easiest gateway.

As a woman, I am happy that we can help other women who are close to usstarts the Franco-Ontarian activist in the region, Kyla Bardwell. But what they need to know is that abortion is not that accessible here.

Several times a year, her interest group demonstrates near the regional hospital, the only place within 100 kilometers where abortion is possible. The wait is long and sometimes anti-abortion activists are out and about. If we really are a pro-choice country, the first thing we should do is make abortion truly accessible everywherethe young woman insists.

It takes four more hours to drive to find a city with more than one abortion clinic, Toronto. Sherri Krieger of the Provincial Coalition of Abortion Clinics, which has been fighting since 1987, works there.

We can welcome Americans who have no other options, we are preparing for it. But access to Canada isn’t great either… Proof: Most of the women I saw at the clinic today weren’t from Toronto. They came from Sault-Ste-Marie, North Bay, Thunder Bay, pretty much everywherecomplains the activist.

Since the leak of the Supreme Court documents, the coalition that includes Sherri Krieger has been communicating regularly with its partners in the United States to pursue a common strategy, something they have always feared.

We knew that one day it would come with all the conservatives on the Supreme Court. Now it is our realityshe whispers, close to tears. It’s so awful, it’s downright awful, that people hate women so much.

Pro-choice activists in Canada have concluded they cannot offer their southern neighbors a one-size-fits-all solution. But they feel a moral obligation to them. In the 1970s, it was Americans who welcomed us to abortionrecalls Sherri Krieger, who sees this as a dark return of the pendulum.

It’s the opposite now. It is so sad. Sometimes I look at the calendar and realize it’s 2022. How is that possible?

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