June 24, 2022
It is with deep sorrow, horror, and outrage that we observe a decision by a narrow majority of hyper-conservative judges to strip away reproductive rights from women, trans men, and non-binary people in the United States of America. Today, tens of millions of people in America woke up with rights that they will not have when they go to sleep tonight. This decision upended half a century of settled law and will have gruesome consequences. The horror of people dying because they were unable to obtain safe reproductive care is something that should have been consigned to the ash heap of history. Tragically, as of today, it becomes reality yet again.
We also lament the fact that the impacts of this barbaric decision will not fall evenly across the states that now criminalize the decision to end a pregnancy. Those who have the means will simply travel to jurisdictions that continue to recognize bodily autonomy. However, where the impact will be felt the most will be among BIPOC individuals and the socioeconomically disadvantaged, who may not have the opportunity or ability to travel away from their homes or families to receive this critical care. It is for these reasons that today’s decision will rank alongside past U.S Supreme Court decisions such as Dred Scott (preventing African Americans from being recognized as citizens), Korematsu (upholding the forcible detention of Japanese Americans), Bowers (upholding laws criminalizing same-sex sexual relations), and Plessy (upholding racial segregation laws) as one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in the history of the Court.
We must also turn our attention to our own backyard. Many members of the Vancouver Friends for Life community owe the recognitions of their inalienable civil rights not to constitutional amendment or entrenchment, but rather to recognition by the courts. While our system is better insulated from the political forces that allowed today’s decision to occur, we cannot ever be so complacent as to assume that this could never happen in Canada. It is far too easy to believe that civil rights, once won, can never be lost. In truth, history has taught us that this is not the case. It is important to remember that reproductive rights are human rights. Human rights must continue to be advanced, and every victory must be constantly defended. If we fail in this regard, rights that we take for granted as a community can disappear overnight, as they just did for tens of millions of our neighbours to the south today.
Sameer Ismail Diane Pépin
President Executive Director