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As A Canadian, I Never Had Reason To Question My Abortion Rights — Until Now

When a relative of mine was in her mid-twenties, she got an abortion — safely and legally.

It may shock you to learn that she’s part of the Silent Generation, currently in her late seventies — but like me, she lived in Canada. With young children at home, a busy work life, and not enough financial leeway, she knew she couldn’t raise another child — it would affect the livelihood of her entire family, and her kids’ chance at success. So, after needing to prove the negative impact on her mental health to comply with the current laws, she had an abortion.

To this day, she won’t even say the word “abortion,” because it’s a daunting concept for her generation. Instead, she calls it a D&C, the specific procedure she endured, which is also used for other uterine issues. Still, she describes the procedure as relatively easy, and knows she made the right decision.

When a Gen X relative of mine was in her late thirties, she got an abortion, too. It was, once again, safe and legal. 

Just like my other relative, she already had kids, who were nearing their teenage years. Immediately, she knew it wasn’t in the best interest of herself nor her family to have another child — so, she had an abortion. An easy procedure with a quick recovery, she looks back with relief and no regret.

But with Roe V. Wade overturning after being in place for almost 50 years, I’ve begun to realize that my right to make decisions about my body may not be here for long. For millions of women and for me, this right is being stripped away as we speak — and it has made me rethink not only my perspective of the US, but also my safety as a woman.

Being from Canada—notoriously known as America’s friendlier sibling—I’ve spent my life watching the US in shock.

Now that I’m entering my twenties, I’ve kept it in the back of my head that, like my relatives and millions of other women, I may need to have an abortion one day. Even if you’re safe like I am, it’s still possible — so I’ve felt relieved to have a last resort if all else fails, and the freedom to do what I want with my body. Just like my older relatives did for generations before me.

Throughout my life, I’ve had a glimpse of US issues from afar. Being from Canada — notoriously known as America’s friendlier sibling — I’ve spent my life watching the US in shock.

When Trump won the presidency in 2016 and we saw his many harmful effects on the country (including the three Supreme Court judges who voted against Roe V. Wade), I was horrified. Every time the news of a school shooting went live, I was heartbroken. And when I watched as more shootings happened in my hometown, knowing it was largely fuelled by the US, I was angry. 

I’ve always been pretty open about my hatred for some of America’s policies. For example, in my high school US History class, we’d frequently question American Exceptionalism and talk badly about Trump together. And for years, I’d beg my Floridian cousins to move to Canada for fear of their safety and freedom.

Often, watching America deteriorate felt like watching a storm outside my window. On one hand, I felt relieved that I wasn’t in the storm, but on the other hand, I was worried for the people who weren’t so lucky — and that the storm would come crashing through my window.

That’s exactly how I felt on June 24 — the horrifying day that Roe V. Wade was overturned. 

Even when Canada’s Prime Minister declared his undying support for women and reassured Canadians that this will never happen in Canada, I was not only scared for the women all over America, but also for my own future. I began to fear that Canada would follow in America’s footsteps: Roe V. Wade overturning has made me fearful for not only America, but also the future of my country.

Like countless other people all over the world, the day Roe V. Wade was overturned, I became furious and disgusted. For the women whose rights to their own bodies were just stripped away by a group of primarily men; for the people who have to cancel their abortion appointments and rethink their futures; the people who are now forced to give birth to the child of their rapist; and for anyone who doesn’t have the means to travel for an abortion — I spent the day fuming on their behalf.

Often, watching America deteriorate felt like watching a storm outside of my window.

And as time went on, I began to question the future of my country. I no longer felt like I was looking at the issue from afar — this news now felt like a warning sign. The US continuously sets a precedent for countries around the world, meaning that other developed countries may start to follow America’s lead — especially Canada, a country known to stand in their shadow. 

This may seem ridiculous to some Canadians, considering how left-leaning our country is. But remember that at one point, America was arguably the most forward, progressive country out there. Long before I was born, American Exceptionalism was at an all-time high — even though it sounds like an odd term now, it did come from somewhere. 

But with Roe V. Wade being overturned after 50 years, among other right-leaning policies, it seems like the US has gotten less progressive over time — particularly as of the Trump era. And unfortunately, I think it’s possible that a similar issue could happen to Canada and other countries.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. In last month’s Ontario election, 57% of people did not vote, and the Conservative party had a sweeping win. Several of the representatives for this party are said to be anti-choice — one even saying he pledges to make abortion “unthinkable in our lifetime.” And although it’s legal, in many provinces, it’s difficult to get an abortion because of the limited and diminishing number of clinics.

Roe V. Wade overturning has made me fearful for not only America, but also the future of my country.

If there’s one way to prevent this from happening in other countries, it’s voting. Now, I’m not saying all of this to scare you — because there are still ways to prevent Canadians from going down a similar path as the United States. The same solution can also help the US become more progressive and, consequently, save the lives of many women and other people impacted by this ruling: voting.

Next election, there are simply no reasons whatsoever to sit out. Our world is in a crisis — a war against women— and the best way to improve is by electing people who will fix this issue. There’s no more room for small voter turnout, no more excuses as to why you can’t vote — and no more thinking it won’t make a difference. Because that’s the mentality that led the US to where it is today (I’m talking about you, Bernie supporters who didn’t vote in the 2016 election).

Our world is in a crisis—a war against women—and the best way to improve is by electing people who will fix this issue.

Aside from voting, you should take the time to stand by the people affected by abortion bans. Give them your support and lend them the resources you can to give them access to safe abortions — whether that’s by donating, initiating a new work policy, or offering to have them stay with you if they need to cross the border to have an abortion. 

We’ve also got our voices, so speak up. Talk about abortion rights when you can — even after it fades away from news headlines and Instagram stories. Just one family dinner conversation can go a long way in ensuring we’re all staying aware of the issue. 

If we’re going to fix this, silence and thinking “this won’t happen to me” isn’t an option. We can’t take after the older generations, who refuse to even say the word “abortion.” We need to talk about it — if not to normalize it, then to educate others. 

To the fellow women around the world who are devastated, angry, and scared, I’m standing with you. Let’s use our voices to fight for our sisters and daughters, in hopes of a brighter future.

Hey! I'm a second-year Global Business & Digital Arts student at the University of Waterloo, a National Writer for Her Campus, and the Senior Editor for HC Waterloo. When I'm not writing, you'll probably find me reading the newest Taylor Jenkins Reid book, watching The Office, or eating pizza.
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