Thousands of people are in downtown Ottawa Thursday for the March for Life anti-abortion rally – an annual march, but the first since a leaked US Supreme Court draft decision document breathed new life into the anti-abortion movement.
That initial draft opinion, penned by Justice Samuel Alito and published by the news outlet Politico, suggests a majority of US justices are prepared to overrule Roe v. Wade – the landmark 1973 decision that protected the right of American women to seek abortion – and return the issue to state legislatures.
Abortion access has also been an issue in Canada’s Conservative Party’s leadership race, with all candidates except Leslyn Lewis indicating either they are pro-choice or that they would not introduce legislation on abortion as prime minister. Since the leaked US court opinion, the federal government has announced millions of dollars in funding initiatives it says will improve access to abortion services and reproductive health information in Canada.
The March for Life anti-abortion march has been held in the Canadian capital for the last 25 years on the anniversary of the day the omnibus Bill C-150 was passed in Canada in 1969, decriminalizing contraception and allowing abortion in certain circumstances, according to its website.
Counter-protesters also gathered in downtown Ottawa, with one sign reading “Abortion is health care.”
Here is what some of the protesters from both sides had to say.
“I love, I love everyone. I love the people who choose the pro-choice side, I love their babies and my heart breaks for them because I’m sure it’s not an easy decision for them to get an abortion and I just want people to know that … there is a choice. You can have your baby, you can get help. You can even have your baby adopted, there’s a lot of people that, you know, want to adopt. “
“I noticed that the pro-choice is closer. I remember walking the streets and they would be in one section and now I notice that they’re across the street.”
“I just read that Mr. Trudeau was giving out $ 3.5 million more to the pro-choice side, I just think that’s wrong. I do. I just find life does begin at conception, I believe that, it’s a life, it’s growing, it’s alive it’s not dead. Give it a chance. “
“I think it’s different because for now, the United States was like it was a place where abortion was kind of a normal thing. Like everyone could have it except some states. But this year, with all the judges that want to where to erase the right for women to take our own choice about our body and anything that is in our body. I think that’s why this year is different. “
“We still have to fight for our rights. As we see, there’s a lot of people who are against women’s rights. So that’s why we’re here. And we still have to fight. And a lot of women and men think that in Canada, abortion is like something that will stay.But if we like go back from 10 years approximately when Stephen Harper was there, he talked about taking the rights for abortion so we never know if someone in power who wants to take back their rights for women’s rights, we still have to fight for it. “
“We’re just showing up to support the unprotected in the womb. I think they need a voice. Just what we see every day in our country, the hundreds of children that are slaughtered innocently. So we’re here to support them, to protect them, and hopefully make a change. “
“I think it helps, like we’re making progress. I think in the States you see some change happening, some progress happening, so I think over time we’re going to continue to make more progress as long as we keep coming out to these, keep speaking up. “
“We’re peaceful protesters, we’re just here to support life, we’re not here against women, we’re here for women. We’d like to support women if they need support with kids.”
“I came out to show solidarity with everyone that stands for reproductive rights for all Canadians and all people around the world.
I don’t expect [the protest] to be too dramatic really so I’m just going to join the people who moved over by the Parliament building, and just make our presence known, our voice heard. “
“I feel like life is so precious and we’re just destroying innocent children. We adopted a boy from Bulgaria. He’s now 30 years old and have birthed children as well. But I just am so thankful that his mother chose to give him life … I met people that had seven, eight, nine abortions and his mother didn’t abort him. And so I just feel very strongly that as a grandma now, I want to stand up for life. “
“My heart goes out to these young people that are just screaming and angry. And it’s not the way. I was here when Roe v. Wade became law. And I’m hoping that it will be overturned. It’s about time.”