Roe vs Wade – sliding backwards

OPINION: Okanagan columnist shares a touching story of why abortions should be legal everywhere

Reproductive rights protest at Cal Anderson Park on May 14, 2022. Hannah Saunders.

Carole Fawcett

Boomer Talk

It was 1973 when women in the U.S. were given the freedom to control their own bodies when deciding whether or not to have an abortion.

The U.S. Supreme Court has now overturned that ruling from the ‘73 case, Roe vs Wade. Like a lot of women, I felt sick when I heard that news on June 24.

The U.S. is resistant to changing the fact that they can legally own a powerful assault weapon – even though it repeatedly is used for mass shootings of children. They don’t want controls on the guns they are allowed to own.

But women will not be allowed to control their own bodies and will be dying or maimed for life, because they will be forced to search out back-alley abortionists. The Supreme Court in the U.S. has criminalized abortion once again.

READ MORE: US Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade; states can ban abortion

Those who have the power, say that abortion is akin to murder. Do you see the irony? Do you see the unbalanced view? The cult of extreme religion has entered the picture.

The Supreme Court had a few right-winged judges appointed by Trump and it has detrimentally changed the rights of women.

We are on a downward slide and this backwards thinking will ooze itself into impacting others whom the religious cultists judge to be wrong.

I thought I would share a story I told you once before. As you read this, I want you to imagine this is happening to you. Really step into the body of the young person I am speaking about.

It was 1979 and I was working at the Winnipeg Crisis Centre. I received a call from a 14-year-old African American girl. She was calling from Detroit, Mich.

She was completely distraught and sobbing so hard that I could barely understand her. But I managed to calm her, and eventually her story was slowly and painfully shared with me.

She was on her way home from school and had been grabbed and gang raped by four to six males (she lost count in the horror and agony of it all). She was ripped and torn and it was an agonizing experience as she was held down and repeatedly violated.

Remember, she was 14 years old.

Later, she was horrified to learn she had conceived during that act of brutal violence and now had to not only deal with the trauma of the actual rape itself, she also had to face being pregnant.

She was phoning our crisis line to find out if she could come to Canada and have the pregnancy terminated.

She explained that her parents were deeply religious and would not allow her to end the pregnancy.

So, she was calling any place that she thought could help her. You can understand why she was feeling over the top desperate, anxious, panicky and was highly suicidal.

I will never forget that two-hour phone call as I had to explain to her that she could not come to Canada for an abortion if her parents did not agree. The cruelty of this parental decision was beyond comprehension in my mind.

Every single day this very young rape victim was reminded of the violence and physical agony that had taken place as the baby grew in her belly. I have often wondered what her life story was like.

This is just one of many reasons that women need to have access to abortion. I remember demonstrating at Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s clinic in Winnipeg at 883 Corydon Ave. It was the first medical abortion clinic outside of Quebec to be opened and the year was 1983. Morgentaler is responsible for making abortion legal in Canada, was even jailed at one point, ridiculously at a maximum security prison.

The new clinic got a lot of attention as it was the first one in Western Canada. There were a lot of anti-abortion people on one side of the street and then there were those of us who believed in a woman’s choice to abort on the other. It was a tense time.

I never thought I’d be writing this column 50 years after the progress that was made in 1973. Are we sliding into The Handmaids Tale that Margaret Atwood wrote about?

We can stop this; we’ve done it before and we can make sure the right-winged extremists do not control women, or anyone else in Canada. We have to support our U.S. sisters.

Grateful to have a government who believes in a woman’s right to choose. We do have to make it more accessible to those who live in rural areas.

Silence is not golden. Speak up. Vote. Demonstrate if necessary. Safe abortion should be every woman’s right all over the world. It falls under the heading of safe health care.

Carole Fawcett is a counsellor and freelance writer/editor,

READ MORE: Dueling protests in downtown Kelowna Sunday following Roe v. Wade reversal


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