Alabama is closer than we think - 2019-05-15
Canadians who reassure themselves that this couldn't possibly ever happen here haven't been paying attention. Yes, polls show Canadians overwhelmingly support access to abortion; thus any framing of the "debate" as "polarized" is overblown. Since the country's abortion law was repealed in 1988 in a landmark Supreme Court decision that determined a woman's right to choose under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, abortion has been regarded a private medical procedure in Canada; like all medical procedures, it is subject to regulations. That said, barriers to abortion exist in Canada with access unequal across the country. It's also vital to keep in mind that public will does not always dictate legislation: according to Data Progress, there's no U.S. state where support for an abortion ban reaches even 25 per cent.
In the past year, two of Canada's largest provinces—Ontario and Alberta—elected majority Conservative governments led by premiers who are actively supported by the increasingly vocal, well-organized, politically strategic anti-choice lobby. In the course of my investigation of these groups last year, I spoke to several anti-choice activists then working to elect Jason Kenney as the "pro-life premier" of Alberta. Jeff Gunnarson, vice-president of the Campaign for Life Coalition, a national group that works to nominate and elect candidates who oppose abortion to all levels of government, told me his group threw its support to Doug Ford after the politician reassured them he supported all of their demands: to defund abortion; to require parental consent before a minor receives an abortion; to uphold "conscience rights" that allow medical professionals not to refer a patient needing abortion or assisted suicide; and to scrap the sex-ed curriculum of Kathleen Wynne's government. (Ford's office refused to provide comment at the time.)
Though these groups emphasize ending abortion, a topic destined to garner headlines, that's a dog whistle for a broader social-conservative agenda that includes rolling back LGBTQ rights, ending gay marriage, and outlawing sex education. Notably, abortion was a top-line topic at the Conservative Party of Canada's policy conference in Halifax last year. Delegates voted to delete Article 65, the 2014 motion dictating that the party will not legislate on abortion. It was the ﬁrst time since enacted that the motion was discussed at a convention. It was defeated narrowly, by 53 to 47.