On May 2nd, Canadians made a horrible decision. Well 39% of the 61.4% (5.8 million of 33 million people) of the population that voted did anyways. We gave Stephen Harper his long-coveted majority.
While he has sworn up and down that his party (ironically referred to as the CPC) won’t touch abortion, nobody in the pro-choice world believes him. His party is full of antis who would like nothing more than to see women die rather than obtain safe, legal abortions. Now that Harper can do just about anything he wants for the next 4 years, the pro-choice world is holding it’s breath, waiting for the first anti-choice bill to be introduced in the 41st Parliament. It will most certainly be a Private Member Bill, which usually means a free vote. But of course nothing is truly free. Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) has just released their breakdown of pro- and anti-choice MPs. Unfortunately there is a large number of, mostly CPC, MPs with an “unknown” stance so the number of anti-choice MPs may very well outnumber pro-choicers or the numbers may be tight. The NDP may be the saving feature because they are a pro-choice party (vs the Liberals who allow MPs to “vote with their conscience”) and the NDP is the Official Opposition. What I am waiting to see is if we learn from America’s mistakes.
Roe v. Wade was not nearly as strong a support for abortions rights as the Morgentaler decision, but that doesn’t mean we won’t fall prey to the “concessions” made with the antis – giving up the rights of low-income women so that wealthy women still have access to abortion. The problem, as is most evident now than ever, is that if you give an anti an inch, they will take a mile. We have been diligent in Canada, us pro-choicers, in protecting our abortions rights, but there is only so much we can do. Now it is up to the MPs in the house to not concede one millimeter. They cannot agree to one concession with the antis because that one concession, over time, will inevitably snowball into the situation we see in America.
Our government is bound and determined to not learn from America’s “war on drugs” and mega-prison mentality. Harper is hell-bent on remaking those mistakes. The pro-choicers in Canada must stand their ground. We must not accept one single concession. We must demand more. More access, more prevention, more freedom. We must not look to “agree to disagree” or appease the antis. We must look them in the eye and tell them they can take their “moral high-ground” and stick it. We are going to demand abortions access in the most remote areas; we must demand more support for those who choose abortion. Pro-choicers in Canada must fight fire with fire. We cannot give in because as soon as we do, as soon as we concede one point, we lose everything.
Write your MPs and let them know your stance on right to access. The antis certainly make their presence be known, so make yours be known as well. Pay attention to the Bills that come before the house. Be diligent. Fight every single one as if it wants to thrown women in jail for abortions because that is what will come if we don’t.