News of the overturn of Roe v. Wade, a 1973 United States Supreme Court decision that established abortion access as a constitutional right, underscores the importance of sexual and reproductive health rights as a key component of gender justice everywhere.
The ability to make informed choices about your health and access health services should be a basic right for everyone. In Canada, even with the legislative standards and legal precedence in place, the lived realities of women, girls, and Two Spirit, trans, and non-binary people have not matched that right. Their autonomy, safety, self-determination, and ability to make true choices have suffered.
Some have been uniquely impacted. Indigenous women and women with disabilities have faced abuses such as forced sterilization and forced contraception. Marginalized women and those with low incomes have experienced many barriers to reproductive health services. Young people of all genders have experienced uneven, inadequate sexual health and healthy relationship education at school.
Achieving a gender equal Canada requires true reproductive justice. This includes access to a full spectrum of excellent supports, including abortion services, birth control, health education, and family planning. As documented by Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, access to abortion and other essential health services differ wildly depending on who you are and where you live.
Federal and regional leaders must pursue stronger policies to ensure all women, girls, and gender-diverse people have access to the sexual and reproductive health expertise, education, and supports they need. They must ensure access grows and is never clawed back. Provincial and territorial leaders must invest in local health services to meet diverse needs of those who live in all communities and regions.
Those of us who care about gender justice must be tireless in upholding the value of reproductive justice nationally and globally, even as reproductive rights get questioned or shaken. We must hold our leaders accountable and support gender justice advocates and organizations who pursue these goals.
President and CEO
Canadian Women’s Foundation