Some people (antis mainly) have questioned why I, a Canadian, am involved in American abortion rights issues. I could give the simple answers, such as the fact that I lived in Hawaii and Texas from ages 5-9, thus giving me a connection. Or I could argue that since I know American women the issue affects me. These are both good reasons and I will use any of them to dismiss an anti, but I have a better one. Regardless of where a woman lives, her access to safe and legal abortion services affects me as a woman.
At one time women worldwide weren’t allowed to vote, they were property of their father or husband, and they had next to no rights. Then a mass wave began washing across the world and women in most countries were given independence from men: the right to own property rather than be traded as property, and the right to vote. There are still some countries where women don’t have all these rights, but for a time those countries were the majority. One country started the “revolution” of independence for women and it spread. Waves can go both ways; we can progress forwards or we can regress backwards. Forwards would be all women having access to safe, legal and cheap/free abortion services. Backwards would be the situation in many third world countries where women die frequently from a lack of safe abortion services. The U.S. straddles the border between progressive first world country and regressive third world country. Abortion is legal and generally safe but it is becoming increasingly inaccessible. The fate of American women affects me because simply caring about my own situation is unacceptable.
The chance of a clinic like ‘Doctor’ Kermit Gosnell’s turning up in Canada is incredibly low. Abortion in Canada is not nearly as stigmatized or as difficult to obtain as it is in the U.S. and in fact, most Canadian women can obtain a free abortion quickly and without ridiculous laws meant to discourage them. I want that to be a reality for American women because they are just as deserving as Canadian women. It is also a reality that we have an anti-choice leader and there are a number of Members of Parliament who are anti-choice. Successes in America may embolden them to attempt to introduce anti-choice laws in Canada. So far we have only had a few dozen “scares” where antis have attempted to introduce some restrictive abortion law. All have failed. While I continue to be active in the Canadian abortion scene, much of what I can do at this time is combat the rare anti-choice law and combat abortion myths. Access is still a problem in Canada but not to the extent that it is in the U.S. The reality is there is much more work to be done in the U.S. I accept that I have basically no clout in American politics, but I still care. The fate of American women who are subjected to religious, anti-choice laws matters to me. I may be on the outside looking in but I want to stop the regressive wave washing across America and I want to reverse it. I have a vested interest in American abortion rights because I am a woman and the manner in which women are treated in other countries matters to me.
The situation in America also worries me because I am terrified anti-choice rhetoric will wash into Canada, especially when we have an anti-choice Prime Minister who is in the back pocket of the American President. America is Canada’s largest trading partner and our economies are tied together. I visit the U.S. more often than any other single country so while I may not live there, the border between us is porous; people and ideas flow freely. Until Canada builds a wall along the 49th parallel my interest in American abortion laws seconds only my interest in Canadian law. At the end of the day, American women need all the help they can get so I’ll throw in my hat.