What the U.S. overturning Roe v. Wade means for Canada.

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Authors: Lauren Vogel and Diana Duong
Date: May 24, 2022
From: CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal(Vol. 194, Issue 20)
Publisher: CMA Impact Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,288 words
Lexile Measure: 1400L

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The United States Supreme Court may soon strike down its landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protections for abortion, according to a draft decision leaked to Politico.

The ruling would mean that states can decide whether and how to restrict abortion --or ban it outright.

Nearly two dozen Republican-led states are expected to issue immediate bans, 13 of which have "trigger laws" on the books that would automatically kick in once the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Abortion will probably remain legal in Democrat strongholds. At least a dozen states, including California, have passed laws protecting access.

Canadian experts say that striking down Roe v. Wade is a devastating setback to reproductive rights with potentially wide-reaching implications.

Outlawing abortion won't stop people from terminating pregnancies, but it will make it riskier and more expensive, said Roopan Gill, an obstetrician-gynecologist with Medecins Sans Frontieres and the University of Toronto. "The people who are going to suffer most from this are not wealthy, white, cis-hetero women. It's going to be Black women, people of colour, people with low-socioeconomic status, LGBTIQ."

Attention to access

What's happening in the U.S. also "puts a magnifying glass" on abortion rights and access in Canada, Gill told CMAJ.

Although abortion is safe, publicly funded and relatively accessible in Canada, "we shouldn't get comfortable," Gill said. "We have work to do as well."

Abortion is decriminalized but not a constitutional right in Canada. Like other health services, abortion procedures are regulated under the Canada Health Act, but access varies greatly depending on provincial policies.

Ottawa withheld federal funding from New Brunswick earlier this year because the province refused to cover abortions outside three hospitals. In Quebec, restrictions on prescribing the abortion pill hampered access during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to other provinces. Other provinces, like Nova Scotia, have only one abortion clinic.

Despite a more permissive legal environment in Canada, the hurdles to care are "not so...

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