Right to Abortion

CUSJ (Canadian Unitarians For Social Justice) and CUUWA

(Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association)

STATEMENT on Access to Abortion in Canada and the United States

2022 05 05

WOMEN IN CANADA, STAND ON GUARD

CUSJ and CUUWA stand together today with our sisters across the border as they face off with a Supreme Court, selected by a polarized judiciary, that has leaked its intention to overturn Roe Vs Wade and open the door for each State to make its own decisions about women’s rights to health care and to the security of the person.  According to maps produced by CNN, over half the states in the United States have either had laws in the past, have strict regulations on abortion now, or have trigger laws that will come into effect when Roe vs Wade is overturned. 

If the landmark legal decision Roe vs Wade is reversed, this will be a giant step backward for the rights of all women, and in particular for the rights of poor women, racialized women, and women whose gender identity and sexual orientation are not typical.  In the text of the decision, as it has been leaked, there is no reference to exceptions for either rape or incest.  It is the harshest possible interpretation of the law.  

The consequences of this decision will be many lives lost.  We fought for the right to abortion because poor women were dying.  A reliable doctor was hard to find. There were many tragedies using illegal and covert methods. This will be a penalty on the poor who don’t have options.  It will make living with poverty even harsher than it already is.  Women with resources will find solutions to their dilemma.  Abortions 

won’t stop.

No woman sets out in life to have an abortion, or takes the decision lightly.  Some women simply cannot bear any more children and recover to take care of a family. Having too many children depletes health, making the woman (and sometimes the child) vulnerable to chronic and acute diseases.  Too many children in a family becomes poverty for all members.  We learned during the COVID pandemic that conditions of overcrowding put whole families at risk.  Single mothers struggle more to care for any child they have.  Both mother and children have reduced opportunities to thrive in life.

A society that supports life would be a society where every child is a wanted child.  It would be a society that ensures that single mothers have all the supports they need to bring their children up with a home, food security, and dignity.  Children have the right to safety, security and social status. Few women who are raped want to raise a child created in hate and violence.  Many of these children suffer from lifelong stigma for who they are. 

A society that cherished children would ensure that if a mother could not keep her child, there would be adequate protective services to find that child a positive environment to grow up in, within their own culture.  Instead, we continue the cycles of troubled, neglected children living in abusive environments and growing up to graduate into the prison industrial complex or living without homes due to inadequate mental and physical health resources.

The abortion debate centres around who will control the bodies, the roles and social power of women in our society, and how we will build healthy families.  As responsible adults, women have the right to control over their own bodies.  They can be trusted to manage decisions on behalf of themselves and their families.  Healthy families, with equal partners who each take responsibility for themselves, their families, and their communities are the foundation for a healthy society — a worthy ideal.

We are fortunate, in Canada, that our political situation is not the same as in the United States.  Canadian politicians from all parties have made clear they will not be trying to reopen the debate.  Nevertheless, we should not take our situation for granted.  We have our own movement in Canada to pass a new abortion law, and they work every day to reduce access to abortions in Canada.  Although all provinces now permit medical abortions, access remans unequal and costly if travel is involved. Education about safe sex, contraception, and post-abortion counselling are not always available and free.  We can be grateful for new technology such as the abortion pill and must make sure it is available in Canada at an affordable price.

Women in Canada, stand on guard.  We have worked hard to attain full adult status in our society.  We must continue to expect our provincial and federal governments to resist lobby attempts to limit our freedoms and to respect our rights to make decisions for ourselves. 

Sisters in the United States, we stand with you and support your work to pass fairer laws making clear the rights of women to be responsible for themselves and to have security of the person. 

Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women’s Association