What’s next? Are We Next? Are You?

By Lorraine Rousseau

News from United States is not news anymore. It has been a couple of weeks since US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, leaving abortion rights to states. I’m horrified, angered, disappointed but sadly, not shocked. It’s an organized attack on women, and LGBTQ2+ individuals, rights that has been growing and in place over the past years— and now the world faces consequences of letting go of such attacks and divisive politics.

I say the world because for decades, if not centuries, colonialism has been successful in portraying that what are known as first world countries (and their governments and policies) are the representative of the civilized nations. Many, around the world, look up to the “free world” represented by United States as a symbol for freedom. Freedom, really? What would this mean to women around the world? For us?

Here is a summary of what happened: constitution’s protection for abortion had been in place for 50 years and the Supreme Court overturned that. What does that mean? A young American individual who identifies as female has less rights than her grandmother 50 years ago. How far does the reach and dismissal of rights travel? There are currently reports of questioning those who suffer from a miscarriage: although these can be spontaneous there are times a miscarriage can be something that individuals have to decide about: the standard of care is the same as care for an abortion. What does this mean? An individual miscarries, they are now subject to questioning about medications they have been taking or how the individual caused the miscarriage! Getting proper care without barriers or questioning is at risk if not already implemented.

What does that mean to Canadians? Why do we need to care?

Human rights and freedoms are values that are not confined to borders or nations. Therefore, we care and we, collectively, must fight for freedoms. For those who are affected by this, it’s an attack on freedom and dignity. To those who’re not affected, I ask you to stand on the right side of history.

The threat is real, and we on this land, Canada, are not immune from attacks on rights and freedoms. What happens in the South doesn’t stay in the South. Attacks on freedoms, women’s rights, LGBTQ2+ communities, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities… they are threatened. We shouldn’t wait until such attacks find their ways to our communities.  I, you, we, must stand united against all threats that take away rights and freedoms: we can’t afford to be silent. We shouldn’t wait, silently, to witness yet another court’s decision that confiscates rights. Those are rights and freedoms that generations of women and gender-diverse people have fought for. Following this US Supreme Court decision, I can’t help but worry and ask: what will happen next?

We already know that many states will ban, if not have already done so, abortion. According to Amnesty International, abortion is “a basic healthcare need for millions of women, girls and others who can become pregnant.” Abortion ban doesn’t end abortion, it ends safe abortion procedures and violates rights and dignity of those who are affected.

Human Rights Advocates are worried about what overturning of Roe v. Wade could mean for LGBTQ2+ health. Would this precedent open the door to overturning recent gains such as same sex marriage? And what’s next? The list of speculations go on… and again, what happens in USA doesn’t stay there. We all share the collective obligation of ensuring that this doesn’t happen in Canada.

What do we do?

Take action! It may not be simple but we can do this!

Raise awareness. Ask and demand from politicians and candidates during, before and after elections about their position on what matters: human rights, women’s rights, freedoms…

Be at the frontline to ensure that those who don’t take a position against attacks on freedoms won’t find their way as decision makers.

Silence is agreement, silence is compliance, silence undermines our Human Rights.

Defend your Human Rights.

This column appeared in the Yellowknifer on July 1, 2022