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'Women's Strike' in Kelowna marks anniversary of Roe v. Wade reversal

Women’s Strike - A March for Reproductive Justice events took place in communities across Canada and the United States
Participants in the Women's Strike - A March for Reproductive Rights march through downtown Kelowna on June 24, 2024.

There are likely many people who have no idea about the societal, emotional, and cultural impact the Roe v. Wade decision has had worldwide since it was brought down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.

The decision protected the right to have an abortion. In June 2022, the Supreme Court reversed that decision, ending the constitutional right to abortion in the U.S.

The continuing impact of the original decision, and its reversal, was not lost on a small group of women and men that marched through Kelowna streets Monday (June 24). 

Women’s Strike - A March for Reproductive Justice events took place in communities across Canada and the States.

“We held a march on the year it was overturned, and we wanted to come out in solidarity on that anniversary,” Candace Banks, Kelowna march organizer, explained.

She added that the issue is not just about abortion, but all reproductive rights.

“There is a giant scope within that. We’re talking about individuals who own uteruses, whether they identify as cis-gendered women, or trans-gendered individuals, or non-binaries, this is so they are taken seriously and not pushed down.”

Approximately 15 people marched from the Sails to the Kelowna courthouse with signs and chanting “My body, my choice” and “Abortion is healthcare.”

“Not every abortion is to terminate a pregnancy that the person doesn’t feel like that they want to carry through,” said march co-organizer Andyrea Couwenhoven. “To gain access to these procedures ensures safety and health for that individual and the people it impacts.”

Comparing Canada to the U.S., Banks said this country is at a standstill in providing abortion services.

“We’re not seeing increased access to it. There are still many provinces that don’t have viable access to abortion and reproductive health.” 

Couwenhoven noted services are far better in B.C.

“We have Options for Sexual Health, which is a clinic that provides pregnancy counselling, it’s not only abortion access. There is STI testing and birth control available.”

However, she said there are limited options for surgical abortions. She noted that individuals also have barriers to accessing IVF treatments and birth control.

Banks and Couwenhoven are concerned with what they see as an American-style evangelical, far-right bent creeping into Canadian politics around the abortion debate.

“We’re here to say that overwhelming Canadians want choice,” Couwenhoven added. “To push that not only is healthcare universal but abortion is healthcare and it should also be enshrined in our laws.”

She said it is an issue that impacts a larger scope than many people realize.

“These kinds of regressive policies are wildly unpopular. It’s a select few pushing that message. Our hope is that we are speaking for most Canadians when we see what’s going on in other countries and we don’t agree with that.”

Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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