Quebecers protest Roe v. Wade reversal in defiance of anti-abortion sentiments

·3 min read
Law student Celeste Trianon spoke to a crowd of hundreds gathered outside the Montreal courthouse Sunday to show their solidarity with Americans, following the reversal of Roe v. Wade. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC - image credit)
Law student Celeste Trianon spoke to a crowd of hundreds gathered outside the Montreal courthouse Sunday to show their solidarity with Americans, following the reversal of Roe v. Wade. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC - image credit)

Protesters at a Montreal abortion rights rally in solidarity with Americans following the reversal of Roe v. Wade by the United States Supreme Court say they fear the decision will lead to a rise in anti-abortion sentiment in Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Hundreds of Quebecers of all ages gathered outside the Montreal courthouse Sunday afternoon amid sweltering heat, carrying signs that said, "Solidarity and rage," "My body, my choice" and "Access to abortion is a human right."

Law student Celeste Trianon, who spoke to the crowd at the protest, called the decision "one of the darkest days for feminism" in an interview with CBC.

"Our body autonomy as women, queer, trans and non-binary people is under threat," Trianon said, adding they have already noticed a galvanization among far-right, anti-abortion movements in Canada.

"We're lucky that we have a society right now that is generally accepting toward abortion … but I'm very afraid that it could turn back."

Rosalie Chretien distributed popsicles at the protest and carried a black and white sign depicting a crying face.

"It's just how I reacted when I heard the news on Friday," Chretien said. "I'm an illustrator, so I try to convey feelings and emotions through visuals."

Rowan Kennedy/CBC
Rowan Kennedy/CBC

The rally and others like it were organized by the Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances, which called on people across the province to protest in front of their local courthouse or city hall today at noon, and to arrive dressed in black.

"We're here first and foremost out of solidarity with our American counterparts, who are being forced to carry to term pregnancies that are unwanted," said the federation's co-director, Jess Legault.

But Legault said it was also important to show that such setbacks would not be met with idleness.

"The anti-choice movement in Quebec is seeing this as a victory, and we want to be very clear that we will not stand by," she said.

Rowan Kennedy/CBC
Rowan Kennedy/CBC

Residents in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood received graphic anti-abortion flyers in their mailboxes over the weekend. Similar pamphlets have been distributed in other Canadian cities in recent weeks, with city councils looking into preventing them from being handed out.

Montreal Councillor Marie Plourded tweeted that she also received one of the flyers and said she was "outraged."

Several Quebec politicians have come out against the decision in the U.S., decrying the sudden overturn of the 50-year-old ruling that had enshrined abortion as a right in the country.

Manon Massé, the co-spokesperson of Québec Solidaire, was at the protest, and called on the provincial government to study and improve abortion access in Quebec, where most clinics are located in urban areas.

Massé said Quebec must show its solidarity with Americans, and open its doors to those in need of abortions.

"It's vulnerable women who are going to be the ones to lose access," she said.

Rowan Kennedy/CBC
Rowan Kennedy/CBC

"As feminists, we must continue to do our work, so that these things don't happen.… Women in Quebec and Canada have to be aware that our rights are very fragile. They can be stepped back at any time."

Other politicians expressed their dismay on social media.

'Dark day'

"I am outraged by the reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision, and in solidarity with all American women whose right to their own bodies is being violated," Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante wrote on Twitter Friday.

"This decision is an unacceptable setback. Let us denounce it forcefully and vigorously, here and elsewhere."

Quebec Liberal leader Dominique Anglade wrote that it was a "dark day for women and their rights, and freedoms."

"We must continue to fight so that our daughters always have more rights than us, not fewer," Anglade added.

Quebec Premier François Legault wrote that it was a "sad setback for women's rights," after the provincial minister for the status of women, Isabelle Charest, posted that her "heart goes out to American women."

Charest said that in Quebec, "we will never allow this right to be called into question."

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