Saskatchewan abortion advocates are concerned about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to quash Roe v. Wade and the limited ability to access abortion that will follow in its wake.
“When people start to see other folk’s access being stripped away and rights being taken away, it is concerning and upsetting,” Saskatoon Abortion Support Network executive director Angie Kells said.
Kell’s nonprofit helps those in Saskatchewan trying to access an abortion.
In Canada abortion has been decriminalized. A 1988 decision by the Canadian Supreme Court struck down a 1969 law that amended the Criminal Code and made abortion accessible but only if the mother’s life was in danger, as certified by a committee of doctors.
Since the SCC decision, abortion has been available under the Canada Health Act, though access varies across the country, including in Saskatchewan.
“Abortion is only available up to twelve weeks in Saskatoon and up to 19 weeks in Regina,” Kells said.
Surgical abortions are only offered in the province’s two major cities, which is a major concern for abortion rights advocates.
“Individuals who have the means and the money to travel it will still be able to access abortions,” Saskatoon Sexual Health executive director Heather Hale said. “The largest impact is on those who do not have that kind of mobility.”
Those who live on reserves far from cities, feel the impact the most.
“For a lot of our First Nation’s women who are in remote communities, especially those up north, it’s a huge barrier for them trying to find transportation and so that’s why you hear all those stories of the Highway of Tears and women trying to travel to these spaces to get that care,” FSIN Vice-Chief Aly Bear said.
Despite the concerns on both sides of the border, the Government of Saskatchewan said in a statement: “A US Supreme Court ruling has no legal impact on women’s reproductive rights in Canada. Saskatchewan will continue to follow the Canada Health Act.”
However, advocates will keep fighting for better access.
“Sexual and reproductive health is an international human right,” Hale said.