On June 29, hundreds stood in solidarity with American women at a pro-abortion rally organised by the KW Shore Centre. The rally, which took place at Victoria Park, was a response to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the case establishing abortion as a fundamental right protected by the American Constitution.
T.K. Pritchard, executive director of the Shore Centre, said, “We wanted to show some solidarity to the folks in the U.S., but we also wanted to shine the light on some narratives surrounding abortion in Canada as there has been limited access.”
Pritchard emphasized how the Supreme Court’s decision not only concerns women and the transgender community in the United States but also affects stigma, attitudes, and, in turn, access to abortion in Canada.
At the rally, local politicians, musicians and members of different social service organizations came together to express their support for abortion rights. The speakers highlighted the importance of protecting pro-choice laws that exist in Canada today, as abortion access has already been limited, particularly for Indigenous, Black and racialized people.
Laura Mae Lindo, the MPP representing Kitchener Centre, opened the rally. She repeatedly stated, “abortion is healthcare.” She explained the importance of accessible abortion and voiced how abortion rights are human rights.
“A lot of people will try to justify gatherings like this around reproductive health, saying what if you were raped? What if you were molested? etcetera, etcetera. But if abortion is health care, there’s also a notion of me being allowed to make healthy choices for myself,” Lindo said.
Ruth Cameron, executive director of the AIDS Committee Of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo & Area (ACCKWA), spoke about how laws and authorities restricting bodily autonomy hurt Black and Indigenous women the most.
“We’re talking about what happens when you erase one group of people Indigenous to all of these territories on Turtle Island, and this portion that is also now called Canada. We are talking about what happens when you create a fake country fueled with the funds of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. We are talking about what happens when you sterilize women and Two-Spirit individuals in the name of genocide. On-going genocide. We are talking about what happens when you label Black women as fungible,” Cameron said.
The speakers’ presentations were followed by booths where many lined up to write love letters to abortion rights, signed petitions held by Shore, and participated in community arts projects, such as one by Colleen Mellinger, a mixed media artist whose work takes great inspiration from other feminist artists.
A group of UW students, including those from the Women’s Centre and Glow Centre, participated in the rally, holding up signs that expressed their support for abortion rights.