But fortunately Canada does.
Today is International Women’s Day.
Anyone questioning why we still need a special day to highlight women’s rights need look no further than South Dakota.
Why men think they should have any say in whether a woman has an abortion is beyond me. If a woman chooses to involve the potential father in the decision, fine. But random politicians need to butt out. It’s so not their business.
For such obvious reasons, most discussion of abortion is focused on threats to Roe v. Wade by right-wing Americans. But I think people sometimes forget that Canadian women didn’t have unfettered access to abortion until 1988. Yes, you read right. 1988.
The decriminalization of abortion in Canada was a consequence of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms coming into effect. Section 7 of the Charter reads:
7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
In R. v. Morgentaler, the Supreme Court of Canada decriminalized abortion by striking down s.251 of the Criminal Code:
Section 251 clearly interferes with a woman’s physical and bodily integrity. Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a foetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman’s body and thus an infringement of security of the person. A second breach of the right to security of the person occurs independently as a result of the delay in obtaining therapeutic abortions caused by the mandatory procedures of s. 251 which results in a higher probability of complications and greater risk. The harm to the psychological integrity of women seeking abortions was also clearly established.
Shortly thereafter, in Tremblay v. Daigle (a case where a woman’s ex-boyfriend was trying to prevent her from obtaining an abortion), the SCC ruled that:
A foetus is not included within the term “human being” in the Quebec Charter and, therefore, does not enjoy the right to life conferred by s. 1. … In Anglo-Canadian law, a foetus must be born alive to enjoy rights. In light of the treatment of foetal rights in civil law and, in addition, the consistency to be found in the common law jurisdictions, it would be wrong to interpret the vague provisions of the Quebec Charter as conferring legal personhood upon the foetus.
[T]here is nothing in the Quebec legislation or case law, to support the argument that the father’s interest in a foetus he helped create gives him the right to veto a woman’s decisions in respect of the foetus she is carrying. The lack of legal basis is fatal to this argument.
So, to sum up:
- A fetus is not a person.
- Men have no say in whether a woman has an abortion or not.
- Restrictions on obtaining an abortion are a violation of woman’s right to security of the person.
Happy International Women’s Day!