A southern Republican governor in the United States signed a contentious bill on Wednesday that places a ban on abortion within the borders of Alabama, launching a challenge to 40 years of abortion rights under federal law.
Bill 25-6, stamped into law by Gov. Kay Ivey, makes it a felony for a doctor to perform or attempt an abortion during any stage of pregnancy. It was passed in the Republican-run state Senate late on Tuesday after fierce debate.
Ivey, who said that she personally disagrees with the Roe v. Wade 1973 decision, admitted that the bill may not be immediately enforceable, adding that “as citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions.”
A new majority of conservative judges on the Supreme Court has opened the door for what pro-choice supporters hope could be an eventual overturn of the federal abortion law. Legislators in Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio are working towards a similar law to the one passed by Alabama.
Canada’s abortion law is safe
Those worried about losing the right to have a legal abortion in Canada are few because the federal Canada Health Act solidifies in law that there are no legal restrictions on abortion, though regulations and accessibility vary between provinces.
Canada has had no restrictions to abortion since 1969, four years before the United States legalized it federally.
No major national political leader has called for the issue to be re-opened in recent history: former Prime Minister Stephen Harper have it no heed and the current Conservative Party leader has made it clear he will not re-open it.
But that has not stopped some in the right-wing political movement making their support for anti-abortion law known, most notably Ontario provincial parliamentarian Sam Oosterhoff, who recently pledged “to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime”.
After deferring questions from reporters and Opposition politicians initially, Premier Doug Ford made it clear that his Progressive Conservative government would not be reopening any abortion issues at Queen’s Park.
While legal change to abortion laws in Canada remain highly unlikely, provincial New Democrats said they remain concerned that abortion services could experience cuts under Ford’s deficit-fighting efforts, where slash public services to save money in the face of $12.3 billion in red ink forecast for the year.