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  • Alisha Grech

Roe V Wade Overturned: What Can I Do?

I’ve been spiralling since Friday.

I grew up in the Ontario Catholic school system. A system that indoctrinated me into attending several March for Life campaigns in Ottawa for further class credit and merit, all before I reached the age of seventeen. All before I understood (as an adult woman) the challenge, the severity and the significance of reproductive freedoms and most importantly, abortion.

In my mandatory Catholic religion classes, I was told, for years, that birth control was a sin. That abortion was a sin. That God would punish me for exploring my body safely, with a partner who cared about me.

In my health class, I was told nothing about my uterus, my ovaries, or my vagina. I was taught nothing of reproductive health, or care.

Instead, I was forced to watch The Miracle of Life, a video of a woman giving birth—as if this—this was my one true goal to strive towards, as a child.

I was once told, in the twelfth grade, that domestic violence between a married man and woman would have to be endured because sacred vows were taken.

But this isn’t about that trauma or the troubling, repressive systems that influenced me.

Because, fundamentally, Catholicism isn’t the issue here. Christian religious extremism and white supremacy is.

That is what I realized, sitting in a hotel bed, millions of miles away from home. I also realized that I’ve never had to question my own options.

I always knew that if I needed it, if I wanted it, I could have an abortion.

The support from my family and partner to have a safe abortion, as of today, is mine.

The choice and financial ability to have a safe abortion, as of today, is still mine.

Not everyone has that. Especially not today.

In the United States of America—a country that has seen over 250 mass shootings this year alone, and has given more freedom to instruments of violence—guns are worth more than bodies.

What is Going On?

On Friday, June 24th, the US Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe V. Wade.

In 1973, the Roe V. Wade ruling protected the constitutional, fundamental right to abortion access across the United States at a federal level. Without it in place, each individual state in the United States can decide whether or not abortion is accessible, outlawed or even criminalized.

As of June 25, 2022, the New York Times reported that at least 20 states plan on banning the essential medical procedure, regardless of circumstance or need. This directly puts over 33 million people at risk; disproportionately affecting BIPOC, low-income, newcomers, disabled, sex workers, and otherwise marginalized groups of people.

Without protection at the federal, and constitutional level, abortion clinics across the United States will close immediately, while others will fade in months.

I’m a Canadian, Why Should I Care?

This is not just an issue that is cornered in the United States. Fundamentally, what happens south of our so-called Canadian border, seeps into the political consciousness here too.

In Canada, access to safe abortion varies—leaving some individuals in rural areas forced to travel to urban centres to seek an appointment. While certain pill formats, such as Plan B, can be difficult to obtain in Canada.

The United States is not the only country that has established harsh, restrictive and ultimately oppressive abortion laws. In recent years, Poland, El Salvador and Nicaragua also have specific abortion laws. In Roe V. Wade Overturned, Global Citizen explains: “A quarter of women of reproductive age worldwide live in one of the 66 countries that prohibit abortion or only allow it in life-threatening circumstances. Unsafe abortions are the third-leading cause of maternal deaths globally and the World Health Organization estimates that 47,000 women die from unsafe abortions annually.”

Every human being, regardless of circumstance, location, ethnic background, income, or religion deserves complete autonomy and bodily freedom.

This is why Roe V. Wade being overturned is important.

This is why abortion is important.

What is at Stake?

Ultimately, this ruling does not stop abortions from happening. If anything, it increases the likelihood of women, girls and other pregnant persons to seek out unsafe abortion procedures. As of 2021, the World Health Organization reported that 45% of all abortions are conducted in unsafe environments that are unsupported by the government—leading to death, severe injury, as well as physical and mental disabilities.

  • incomplete abortion (failure to remove or expel all pregnancy tissue from the uterus);

  • haemorrhage (heavy bleeding);

  • infection;

  • uterine perforation (caused when the uterus is pierced by a sharp object); and

  • damage to the genital tract and internal organs as a consequence of inserting dangerous objects into the vagina or anus.

Abortions will continue to happen. What will change are the risks that people are willing to take, in order to seek out the care that they feel they want or need. Women, girls and people who are pregnant and do not want to be, will die seeking out unsafe abortions.

Who Will This Hurt?

This Supreme Court ruling will disproportionately affect marginalized persons, such as women of colour, newcomer individuals, people who are disabled, neurodivergent, queer and transgender. What this means, is that these groups of persons—who are already living under economic and systemic strains—face further instances of trauma and violence in the form of a lack of access to reproductive care.

In a recent study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, disabled people were three times more likely than non-disabled individuals to experience sexual assault. This kind of trauma sends many to seek care in the form of abortions.

Those who are white, able, and financially stable will be able to (theoretically) travel to receive the care they need.

In other words, the overturn of Roe V. Wade is not just an attack on bodily autonomy, it is a direct attack on BIPOC, queer, disabled, sexworker, transgender and newcomer communities.

It also leaves other laws up in the air, leaving many to worry about ruling regarding gay marriage, LGBTQ health, contraception laws and transgender health laws.

What Can I Do?

Whether or not you have had an abortion, agree with the specifics of the procedure of abortion, or know someone who has had one—we can all understand the importance of their appearance in society, especially with growing rates of income inequality, gender-based violence, and other equity affecting issues.

You can sign these petitions:

You can donate to any of these organizations:

You can learn more here:

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