How the U.S. decision to ban abortion could impact you.
In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court (USSC) decision to void half a century of precedent and overturn the landmark 1973 ruling, Roe v. Wade, many Ontarians find themselves experiencing a wide range of emotions.
From heartbreak, re-traumatization, and powerlessness to confusion, curiosity, and concern, many may wonder if the ruling impacts us here in Canada.
“I’ve had a pit in my stomach all day after reading about this. As much as someone can argue this doesn’t affect Canadians, it does. It shifts what is acceptable to even debate,” says Sarah Pinch, 21, a recent graduate from the University of Western Ontario and Co-Chair/CEO of Safe ‘N Sound Grey Bruce.
While the emotional impact of the USSC ruling is undeniable, how might the verdict impact the rights of Ontarians?
The Canadian context
It is essential to reassure uterus-bearers that the fall of Roe does not trigger or enable any form of restriction or ban in Canada; however, reproductive justice here is not as secure as one may believe.
While the U.S. has struck down its constitutional protections on the right to an abortion, Canada never had one in the first place.
Often analyzed as the Canadian rendition of Roe, the 1988 Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruling in R. v. Morgentaler concluded that the criminalization of abortion went against Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
R. v. Morgentaler may have struck down criminal sanctions for abortion but it did not make the procedure a right. In the absence of any federal legislation on abortion, the issue is indexed to the provincial healthcare systems, where accessibility varies accordingly.
Post-Morgentaler, we have relied upon the promises of Conservative Party leadership to let the issue of choice lie. However, it remains possible that future legislators may seek to introduce restrictions.
Striving for equitable accessibility
According to Bernard Dickens, a professor of health policy at the University of Toronto, prior to 1988, Canadian women residing in border towns would travel south to the U.S. seeking abortions.
A wave of abortion bans and restrictions have precipitated growing concerns that as roles reverse and Americans seeking abortions turn to Canada as a safe haven, our own system will become overwhelmed.
In a statement released by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Executive Director Joyce Arthur shared these concerns; “How can we help Americans coming to Canada for abortions when we don’t even have enough access ourselves? That’s especially the case for the most marginalized, including Indigenous, transgender, 2SLGBTQI+, immigrant, and youth communities.”
Geography also poses a distinct challenge with extreme disparities in accessibility between rural areas and urban centres that coincide with inconsistent funding and healthcare infrastructure.
Pinch elaborates on the geographical difficulties to abortion accessibility; “Sure, we don’t have laws restricting access to reproductive services, but that doesn’t mean they are accessible. Ontario only has about 20 abortion clinics and they are all located in the South. Our health care system was flawed in this regard before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and now we get to fear that these services will shrink.”
Pinch also discusses the emotional impact of the U.S ruling; “It is sickening to know one of your fundamental rights is being debated, but it’s a whole other thing to have the Supreme Court of the United States, one of the most influential judicial bodies in the world, decide it is not a right you deserve.”
Anger to action
If one thing is clear amidst the political turbulence, it is that this is no time to turn a blind eye to our neighbours to the South.
An international border does not safeguard Canadian’s reproductive rights from the dangerous precedent that the U.S. has set. Now is the time to stand in solidarity with pro-choice advocates organizing in the name of reproductive justice in the U.S. and address domestic barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health care here in Canada.
So, what can you do?
Contact your local MP
The 45th (next) Canadian federal election is set to take place on or before 20 October 2025. Review this resource on anti-choice MP’s compiled by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and make an informed vote.
Donate and support
- Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada
- National Abortion Federation Canada
- Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
Choice Connect is a service that connects individuals in Canada seeking an abortion with their nearest provider. Launch the tool identify your nearest provider and donate locally.
American abortion funds