AUPE’s Women’s Committee is shocked by the news that the United States Supreme Court is preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade, which provides Americans with the constitutional right to abortion. Limiting access to abortion is an assault on the rights of working people.
Lack of access to reproductive health care and safe abortions results in unsafe abortions—not fewer abortions. Restricting access to abortions is about reproductive control, not health care, not safety, and not morality.
Reproductive freedom means freedom for workers. Pregnant workers are often treated unfairly at the workplace, and employers discriminate against young workers during the hiring process because they do not want to meet their obligations to staff who take maternity or paternity leave. This makes the choice of whether to continue a pregnancy extremely important for workers, especially in the early years of their career.
While the new Roe v. Wade controversy only has the potential to directly affect the United States, abortion access is limited and under attack in Canada, too.
The inability to access abortion services in Alberta is a serious health issue for the working class. Currently, Albertans can only access abortion services in Edmonton and Calgary.
Not everyone can afford to drive to Edmonton or Calgary for health care services. Think of how life-changing it would be if abortion services were available province-wide for those who are only making minimum wage, those living in poverty, and those who are victims of sexual violence. This is another reason why reproductive freedom is a labour issue—another reason why it matters to AUPE members and all Albertans.
Premier Kenney says his government has no plans to change abortion access in Alberta, but reality suggests otherwise. After the Roe v. Wade news broke, Kenney was asked in the Legislature what he and his government would do about abortion. Kenney refused to promise to never cut abortion access.
But it doesn’t stop there: the UCP has a serious track record of opposing access to abortion.
In 2020, the UCP member for Peace River, Dan Williams, put forward Bill 207, which would have restricted abortion access by allowing physicians to refuse to perform the procedure as well as refuse to provide birth control treatments. This controversial Bill eventually fizzled out without so much as a vote because the government and other members of the Legislature did not wish to show their true colours.
Earlier in 2019, the NDP member for St. Albert, Marie Renaud, proposed Motion 506. This motion called on the government to review abortion accessibility and remove barriers to abortion in Alberta. As abortion services are only available in Edmonton and Calgary, expanding abortion access at health care centres throughout the province would benefit countless Albertans. However, 43 UCP members voted against Motion 506, defeating it.
Abortion is a health care service like any other. And just like any other health care service, Albertans have a right to it. AUPE members and their Women’s Committee stand firm in support of abortion, reproductive care, and all public health care services in Alberta.