Marlowe Evans
Marlowe Evans
Originally from British Columbia, Evans is pursuing a Bachelor in Political Science at UNB.
October 1, 2020

Opinion: The Promise of Choice

Photo by Jules Keenan

Canada has some of the best legislation on abortion in the world – because we don’t have any. There is no law restricting access to abortion. It is not our laws that oppress us – it is our government. By what means can a young writer possibly convince anyone that safe access to abortion is vital? By the only means at her disposal; by the means in which she has tried, too many times, to convince the world that there are things out there which matter, and things out there which are true.

It is impossible to underestimate the importance of Clinic 554 to queer healthcare in New Brunswick, and so glaringly obvious that it is vital to the province in terms of the access it provides to safe abortion. This access is tied to financial disparity and geography. Yes, queer healthcare and abortion exist in other places; but do they exist in New Brunswick, in Fredericton – beyond this clinic? No. Can an uninsured person afford the hundreds of dollars it costs to go to Moncton to get an abortion? No. Could all of the strife that is about to befall us be avoided by our provincial government? Yes.

Our access to abortion took years to build up through legal battles that were no less noble or just than the battles fought for any other of our rights – the right to vote, the right to life, the right to liberty, or to security of the person. Because although no law exists today in Canada that reads that we have a right to abortion, there is no law yet that says we cannot have one, and no law that lays down limitations on them. Fundamentally, this absence of a yes or no in our books is a promise to the tradition of choice.

There is a type of faith that we have going to a polling station in Canada. It’s a strange and sometimes sad faith that despite our best efforts to put an x in the right box, our status quo will remain the same. Sometimes that status quo assures us security, and sometimes it holds us back from progress. However, when that status quo, that unspoken etiquette for which Canada is, for better or worse, renowned worldwide, is upset solely to serve the needs of one pitifully ignorant group of people? Solely upset to tie up resources and destroy the promise of choice for which Morgentaler so bravely campaigned? Then there is nothing to do except to take up once again the arms which our Charter promises us – the right to protest.

Let us have faith that our protests will be successful in maintaining the promise of choice that was made to us, beyond Fredericton, beyond New Brunswick. These times are trying enough. If we work diligently in these coming weeks, then the safety of those seeking abortion should be one of the few things of which we are sure in these times of unsurety.

Does Blaine Higgs realize that the word progressive is in his party’s name? What constitutes progress? Is it something in the perpetually tanking New Brunswick economy? Is it in our rising unemployment rates? Is it in the way he bows to the will of the Irvings? Is it in our provincial legislature? It remains to be seen.

The Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick is made up of cowards, and in the realm of politics there is no insult more grave to the tenets and traditions of our nation than to be cowardly.

To let our promise of choice, our access to queer healthcare, and even for some our family doctors, be ripped from our hands at this point would be unforgivable. The Progressive Conservatives may have won a majority of seats, but whether or not they will do right by those seats and the tradition behind them is as yet unclear.

We can recognize a lost cause, and we have seen them many times. Our eyes have not yet deceived us. What can we see in the faces of the protestors who stand between liberty and oppression on the steps of the legislature? Hope. And with that, no cause can possibly be lost. 

No threat of arrest can barr us from the defence of our rights. This writer would rather end her nights in the custody of law enforcement than be silent, be silenced, or submit to censorship. That is the pillar of civil disobedience. We cannot be known as those who allowed the Progressive Conservatives to rob us so underhandedly. We must dare ourselves to be brave, and in doing so, dare Blaine Higgs and his party to do better. 

The removal of tents is not enough to scare us into submission, or to stop us from protesting. 

If they wish to intimidate us, let them try harder.

We are as sure in our commitment to the promise of choice as they seem to be in theirs to ignorance, cowardice, and negligence.



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