Image courtesy of Elvert Barnes via Flickr
Four women stand on the corner of Keele and Dundas, Sts., holding black and white signs stating, “Defund Abortion.” The small gathering is one of many mini rallies throughout Toronto, reflecting new tactics for the Canadian Life Coalition (CLC). Last May, the organization held a large Defund Abortion Rally at Queen’s Park, but has opted this fall to wage smaller and more localized campaigns.
A little girl, about six years old, stands in a pink dress next to her mother. She runs over and hands me a flyer. I thank her, and ask her mother if I can talk to them about the protest. She is hesitant to speak to me and directs me to the coordinator who hands me a prepared statement. The coordinator talks with me about her views, but refuses to give her name. “My workplace definitely doesn’t support this,” she says, gesturing at the signs.
“I don’t want my name published. I’m afraid I would be fired.”
As I’m talking with her, an angry conversation starts in the background. A woman on a bike has pulled over and is having a heated conversation with two of the protestors. “You can’t ignore science!” she yells. ”
They’re babies!” a protestor screams back. A couple walking by looks uncomfortable and picks up their pace.
Alissa Golob, youth coordinator for CLC, said in a phone interview, that the coalition would like to see the money currently spent on abortions going towards “any procedures that are life giving rather than life ending.” She reiterates some the information on the prepared statement from the rally. “The money spent on abortions could be used to hire 200 doctors, 400 nurses, or to provide treatment for 500 autistic children.”
Abortion is recognized as a women’s right in Canada, and has been legal since 1988. In Ontario, abortions are covered under OHIP until 23 weeks. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vowed not to reopen the abortion debate, and according to a survey done last January, the majority of Canadians agree.
And for good reason. While the anti-choice movement focuses on the politics of fetuses, the lives of women are at stake. Providing coverage for this medical procedure ensures that women are able to access services at a critical moment in their lives, rather than having to resort to unsafe methods due to a lack of accessible care. It prevents impoverished women from being punished due to financial situations, and helps women avoid discrimination based on their sex. It is important to guarantee women’s constitutional rights, even when a vocal minority disagrees.