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The Abortion Rights Looking Glass: Canada Reflects Women First

Truthout | 11-01-2012

Currently, Canada is the only country in the world where there are no criminal laws pertaining to abortion. Combined with our publicly-funded universal health care system, this means abortion is available on demand, period.

Many in the United States don't know that, or how that right was secured, or why -- despite facing renewed anti-choice activism and a horrendous right-wing federal government in Ottawa -- abortion rights are likely here to stay.

Canadian feminists worked for decades to create a pro-choice culture, and the effort has paid off. Carolyn Egan, originally a Boston native, is a director and founder of the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics. She sees Canadian feminists' success as a result of building a movement rather than focusing on politicians and legislatures. "I think we recognized there was a large pro-choice sentiment in this country that had to be organized," says Egan. "We felt a direct challenge to the law [that declared abortion a criminal act] would be the spark to do that. If a clinic was opened it could -- and did -- become a symbol of women's resistance to an unjust law. So we tried to build a movement that went beyond the women's movement, that had trade unions, immigrant communities, students, etc."

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