A leaked Supreme Court decision suggests US may overturn Roe vs. Wade. At this point it is only a draft one, not final, but there is a very strong likelihood it does get overturned. Below are my thoughts on what it means for US both in impacts and how it will impact elections. Then on Canada and how it will impact Canadian politics. And finally what Canada needs to do to ensure abortion remains safe and legal for all women coast to coast.
If this is done, it will have huge repercussions and impacts that could be long lasting and many even unknown. It will likely divide a bitter polarized country even more. Also sets horrible precedent that other long held rights are on chopping block too. No doubt many conservative states will ban abortion and in some cases even in case of rape and incest. At same time one should note overturning Roe vs. Wade does not mean abortion will be illegal coast to coast. What it simply means is it is up to each individual state to decide. As such I think abortion is safe in most of the solid blue states where we have seen strong commitments to protect a woman’s right to choose. Even Vermont and Massachusetts which have Republican governors have come out in support of a woman’s right to choose. So woman in those states will be fine. Likewise those with money will be fine too as they can travel to states where legal. However for poorer women in red states, this will be an unmitigated disaster. It will mean more back alley abortions but also more unwanted children born. Raising a child is no easy task and forcing one to give birth when they don’t want to doesn’t just harm individual women, but harms society at large. This will likely mean poverty rates rise, crime rates go up and many other consequences we may not realize. Fact these states have very weak social safety nets is especially galling as that will exacerbate the problem even more than say in countries like Malta or until recently Ireland where banned but at least have strong social safety nets much of US lacks (note I think any ban is wrong, but with weak social safety net makes problem even worse). In purple states, it could make this central issue and even result in instability where it gets legalized for a few years then recriminalized and thus back and forth depending on who is in power.
On the political front, this may just be a lifeline to Democrats who were on track for bad losses in midterms. Probably not enough to save them, but likely makes it more competitive. Also may help elect Democrat governors in purple states that would have otherwise gone Republican. Heck in light red states like Florida or Texas, this might just be an issue that tips enough voters over to Democrats to win those states (although far from guaranteed). If any lesson here, this shows why voting is so important and its not just GOP to blame here, but also Democrats who stayed home and made this possible. While mostly bad, if any positive comes out of this, that will be it ensures turnouts in midterms are higher as each election will put this on ballot so people won’t have luxury of staying home. I also think you could see some try to get this on ballot initiatives to protect against state government banning it. Already there is an effort to put this on the ballot in Michigan this fall for that reason.
For Canada, no doubt progressive parties will use this in attacks against conservative parties pointing out if unthinkable can happen in US, it can in Canada too. On one hand we are not US so this has no bearing on our laws. We are a lot more liberal and much less religious so political risk from introducing such ban here is much greater than in US. But if parties on right were hoping to make gains amongst female voters, this will just make it that much harder. As such I think it is time Conservative party bite the bullet on this and firmly say they are pro-choice, no more free votes. You don’t have free votes on fundamental rights, those must be protected irrespective of public opinion. Sure it will anger base and maybe lead to split, but its only way forward. Pro-life types need to accept that while they are entitled to their views, they do not have right to impose them others. If you are against abortions, don’t get one. But don’t tell others what to do with their own body. And no more trying to restrict by stealth. Sex selective abortion bans, late term are red herrings as neither happen much and while most probably don’t support either; pro-life types pushing this as a backdoor way to gradually limit it by stealth with long term goal of banning outright. Pro-life types realize they cannot ban it outright today so its a long term project to nibble away at a woman’s right to choose. Tories need to not fall for this trap and make clear there will be further restrictions on abortion period.
As for laws going forward in Canada, I do think if overturned, federal government should work with provinces that border states where banned to expand or even build new clinics so women in those states can come here to get an abortion. Likewise immigration procedures should be amended to allow those normally inadmissible to Canada to enter for purpose of abortion but still inadmissible for all other purposes. This would apply to someone with a DUI record or unvaccinated for example. They would still be banned from Canada in general, but could enter for purpose of getting an abortion. In addition there are still concerns of access as while access good in large cities, many smaller communities lack it. Its not feasible to have an abortion clinic in every community, but thanks to Canada’s vast geography it means some are going to be very far from one thus limiting access. Solution here is to fund travel costs for women that live in communities with no abortion clinic and where creating one is not feasible so as to ensure their right to choose respected. And likewise both provincial and federal governments should if not already on books create laws requiring employers to give women time off to get an abortion.