Demonstrators gathered on Sunday to take part in a pro-choice rally outside Montreal City Hall in response to the recent criminalization of abortion in some parts of the United States.
Protesters in Montreal say the American legislation should serve as a wake-up call to Canadians.
“I find that deeply threatening,” says Marnie Wellar, who attended the event, of the recent legislation.
Several American states have recently passed or introduced legislation outlawing abortion six weeks after conception — a point that’s before some women even know they are pregnant.
Some believe that conservative politicians in the U.S. want to challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the country.
In Canada, there has been no abortion law since 1988. The medical procedure is treated like any other, and access is, therefore, left to the provinces to regulate. In Quebec, anyone with a medicare card is eligible for access to free abortion.
But protesters argue there is still room for improvement in Canada, saying that access remains a big problem.
“Perhaps a national program to make sure that women in rural areas can get the medical care that they need,” Wellar says.
She also says Canadians shouldn’t be complacent.
“I live in Ontario, where we recently had a member of the provincial legislature go to a pro-life march and pledge that abortions will become unthinkable in our lifetime,” she says, referring to Ontario MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s speech at a Toronto anti-abortion rally on May 9.
Furthermore, the demonstrators argue that criminalizing abortion does more than just deny a woman her rights.
“You’re not going to stop an abortion from happening,” says protest organizer Alyssa Landry. “If someone doesn’t want to have a child, they will take whatever measures it takes.”
Wellar agrees, adding: “People will die. That’s the biggest danger.”
Demonstrators see protests like Sunday’s rally as necessary because, according to protester Ines Foka, they are the continuation of the fight for women’s rights.
“The fight to be able to do what you want with your body, not being pressured,” Foka tells Global News.