The United States Supreme Court has officially struck down Roe v. Wade, which enshrined the constitutional right to abortion access. This decision affects only the United States, but there is no denying the U.S. influence on politics here in Canada.
AUPE’s Human Rights and Women’s Committees are shaken by this news. We mourn for those in the States who will suffer because of this decision and offer our steadfast solidarity. We also, however, recognize the time for mere words is over.
We are encouraged to see so many of our southern neighbours protesting this decision. As union members, we know the fight for what is right can be difficult and terrifying. That is, after all, our history.
Unions and other working-class organizations have a proud past of fighting for human rights. Union members have won the right to bargain collectively, to have safe and healthy worksites, for pensions, and for access to public health care, which includes abortions.
AUPE members are proud to carry on that tradition. As a union of workers in public services and health care, we have always championed services that are accessible to everyone, and universal access to abortion is no different.
In fact, reproductive rights are more important in the workplace than some people think. Pregnant workers are often treated unfairly at the workplace. Bosses illegally refuse to hire young workers because they do not want to meet their obligations to staff who take maternity or paternity leave. When workers do take leave, they often cannot afford to pay into their pension funds, forcing them to work longer before retiring. For these reasons and more, access to reproductive health care is important for union members and all working people.
Unfortunately, abortion is not accessible for everyone in our province. Currently, Albertans can only access abortion services in Edmonton and Calgary. This makes abortion inaccessible for anyone who cannot afford to travel to either of these cities.
But abortion is not just inaccessible in Alberta, reproductive rights are also under attack. Two years ago, a UCP member of Alberta’s government tried to pass a bill that would have allowed physicians to refuse to provide abortion services as well as refuse to provide birth control treatments.
One year earlier, 43 UCP politicians voted down St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud’s Motion 506, which advocated for increasing abortion services outside of only Edmonton and Calgary.
It is clear that working class Albertans must beware attempts to reduce or eliminate our reproductive rights.
AUPE’s Human Rights and Women’s Committees fully support the right to all forms of reproductive health care, and AUPE members stand ready to defend this right.
After all, if we do not stand up for our rights, who will? The rich and powerful try to take away our rights all the time. If ordinary working people do not fight back together, in solidarity, we will never match their power. But we can, and we will.