Today I dropped off half a dozen protest signs that I had made 2 years ago at the home of a woman I know loosely from the pro-choice movement. I had “advertised” that the signs were free to a good home because my full-time job prevents me from attending protests these days. They were well made and in good shape and I wanted them to be used. She joked that attending pro-choice protests was her “retirement job.” I was about to reply that I hoped I had a retirement job as awesome as protesting, but I stopped myself.
In 40-odd years when I retire, I do not want there to be a need for me to protest. I want a abortion rights to be so ingrained in our culture that I can sit back and enjoy my retirement. The thought that in 40 years that may not be the case is absolutely horrifying. How much longer can we continue to fight for abortion rights? It has already been decades and some days it feels as we are moving backwards, particularly in the United States, where abortion bans continue to apply to earlier and earlier pregnancies, and involve increasingly onerous hurdles for women. Here in Canada, backbench CPC MPs continue to hide abortion bans by touting them as bills to “protect” women, including sex-selection abortion bills. Despite the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, stating emphatically that the abortion debate would not be re-opened while he is Prime Minister, I cannot recall a more active time for abortion-restricting bills than the last few years. So far they have all been unsuccessful because our pro-choice community ruthlessly attacks the underlying premise of each of them, but how long must we continue?
How much longer will we have women (and men) who retire to spend their free time protesting events all over the province? These are the men and women who remember when women were dying from botched abortions, many who actually knew somebody who died. What will happen when the only activists remaining are those who were not alive when there were wards designated to care for women dying from a back alley abortion? I am certainly not suggesting that the activists who do not remember those days are any less committed, but the women and men who do remember those days will most certainly pass away before my generation retires and has time to attend protests full-time.
In 40 years, my Canada will be one where a woman’s inalienable right to choice will be questioned by so few in society that they are dismissed as whackos. In 40 years my Canada will be one where youth have never attended at a pro-choice rally because it was unnecessary; because women have had the undeniable right to abortion for so long that they do not recall a time when it was in dispute, just as I do not recall a time when it was illegal. In 40 years, when I retire, my Canada will be pro-choice.