Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

HACKETT: Abortion rights need to be fought for

U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade could have consequences in Canada

I shouldn’t have to do this.

Nobody should have to do this in 2022.

The conversations being had this week are absolutely absurd. We do not live in Margret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. This is not fiction. This is real life.

Late Monday night, a report surfaced out of the United States that the Supreme Court is considering overturning Roe v. Wade, a monumental decision that protected a women’s liberty to choose without excessive government restriction.

Typing that is unthinkable for me.

On a basic level, it’s easy to say, “that’s not our country,” “We have different laws in Canada,” or “That will never happen here.”

But as we’ve seen over the last decade, media, policies and ideas do not respect international borders. They can be easily transmitted, passed on and embraced by Canadians in a matter of days.

To think in 2022, I would have to explain why a woman should absolutely, unequivocally have the right and choice to have an abortion is a complete failure of society.

First, abortion was only decriminalized in Canada in 1988, some 15 years after Roe v. Wade.

That’s not that long ago and recent polling indicates that 12 per cent of Canadians want a leader that is pro-life and 19 per cent of conservative voters want a pro-life candidate.

So I’ll say it a bit louder for those in the back – it should be a fundamental right that a woman has the choice about what to do with her body. No government policy should dictate that decision. Full stop.

Of course, abortions will still happen in the U.S. if the decision passes, just less safely than they do now. That’s dangerous, maddening and sad, all in the same breath.

Women will die. Let that sink in.

Women will potentially have fewer rights now if this decision passes – fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers.

Young girls will be forced to carry babies to full term. Even in the case of rape, incest or assault. Women will die.

Canada has already offered support for women seeking abortions if the law is overturned. That is positive. Several female MPs have spoken out strongly in support of a woman’s right to an abortion. That is also positive.

“To my two American step-daughters, your father and I firmly support you in fighting for your equality and right to safely manage your reproductive health. We love you so much,” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner.

“I will always, and have always, fought for the same for the women I represent in Canada.”

But you don’t need to travel too far in Alberta to know that not everyone believes abortion should be an inalienable right. There is a billboard on Highway 2 on the way to Edmonton supporting the pro-life movement, in plain sight for all to see.

I am not a religious person, so you cannot use the bible or any scripture to convince me that some divine power would force someone to suffer through a choice that wasn’t their own. Those words ring hollow.

Genetic specifics about when a fetus is considered a person be damned, this decision will cause irreparable harm to women. Those women are people too. Why do they have fewer rights? There is no legislation to regulate a man’s body. None. Think about the power dynamic this triggers and encourages.

It falls short of logic.

Of course, I say all of this as a man. I am in the easiest of positions.

There has not been one second of my life that I’ve had to consider a choice with consequences like the one a woman would have to make if she decided to have an abortion. I could not, in my wildest dreams imagine the weight and burden a decision like that must carry.

I will never fully understand.

I can read, I can talk to experts and I can learn. But I’ll never be in the position to choose. So, as an ally, as a friend, I have to speak up now when I have a platform and an opportunity to make a difference.

The right to choose should be undeniable. It’s baffling that in 2022 I’m using this space, to defend a woman’s right to choose. But this fight is here, now and a stand must be made.

Byron Hackett is the Managing Editor at the Red Deer Advocate.