FILE - In this April 17, 2019, file photo, Bianca Cameron-Schwiesow, from left, Kari Crowe and Margeaux Hartline, dressed as handmaids, protest against a bill banning nearly all abortions at the Alabama State House in Montgomery, Ala. As abortion opponents cheer the passage of fetal heartbeat laws and other restrictions on the procedure, abortion-rights groups have been waging a quieter battle in courthouses around the country to overturn limits on providers. (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP, File)

‘No appetite’ to ban abortions in Canada amid U.S. bills, expert says

Alabama ban could see abortions become a felony, with no exception for rape or incest

A recently-passed abortion ban in Alabama won’t affect women’s access to services here in Canada, a University of British Columbia professor says.

Dr. Ellen Wiebe said that unlike in America where there are laws governing abortion access, “we have no abortion law here in Canada.”

“Abortion is a medical procedure and it’s regulated in the medical field,” said Wiebe, who is also the medical director at the Willow Women’s Clinic.

Despite there being “private members bills trying to get a law in Canada… I don’t think there’s any appetite to change it here.”

READ MORE: Alabama ban on nearly all abortions in GOP governor’s hands

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in France Thursday he regrets the choices U.S. lawmakers made.

Trudeau re-affirmed his own pro-choice stance and said Canada would remain unequivocal in its defence of a woman’s right to end a pregnancy.

READ MORE: Trudeau says U.S. state abortion bans are ‘backsliding on women’s rights’

Abortions became legal in Canada in 1988, with no limits, although some doctors and hospitals do not provide, or are not equipped, for later-term abortions.

In B.C., medical abortion are available up to nine weeks and procedures using the drug Mifegymiso became free in early 2018.

Alabama legislators gave final approval this week to a ban that would make abortion a felony punishable by 99 years in jail. There was no exception made for rape or incest.

Earlier this year, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy – before many women know they’re pregnant.

Wiebe said she doesn’t expect any “abortion tourism” to come to Canada, as most women will choose to either the west or east coast in America, where laws are more lax.

“But’s terrible they would have to travel away from their own homes. It’s so discriminatory for people who are poor, people who have trouble getting off work and daycare,” Wiebe said.

Wiebe said the abortion bans in the U.S. will negatively affect women’s health care as a whole, as abortion providers like Planned Parenthood also provide contraception, cancer screens and other medical care.

“There will be more unplanned pregnancies,” Wiebe said, as well as more ‘coathanger’ abortions.

“People will be desperate and they will try to do it themselves,” she said.

“I’m very glad that we live in Canada.”

READ MORE: Anti-abortion protesters come to B.C. Legislature

– with files from The Canadian Press


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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