Approximately 100 women, men, non-binary and trans folks came together in downtown Nanaimo on Sunday afternoon and marched for reproductive rights, increased access to abortion and bodily autonomy.
The Women’s March, organized locally by Nanaimo Women Helping Women, saw people from all walks of life gather at the Lions Pavilion in Maffeo Sutton Park on Jan. 22 to listen to speakers from various organizations on several topics focusing on the state of women’s rights worldwide.
“We don’t need any abortion laws in Canada,” said Joyce Arthur, founder and executive director of Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. “In fact we’re the only country in the world, except for China, that doesn’t have any restrictions on abortions. Health care does not need regulations like that or criminal restrictions … Today is the 50th anniversary – it would have been – of Roe v. Wade. When that decision came down last year? Just devastating, just heartbreaking. The cruelty is just mind-boggling for women to have lost this right in the U.S.”
The U.S. Supreme Court decision made in 1973 that stipulated abortion as a constitutional right was overturned last year.
“We will work to increase accessibility to abortions and will also promote Access B.C.’s campaign to make all contraceptives free in B.C.,” said Marnie Boers, one of the event organizers with Nanaimo Women Helping Women.
Dr. Emily Stuart, who has been providing surgical and medical abortions since 2021, said women’s rights include trans and LGBTQ rights.
“All people who get abortions should know that it is safe. Abortion is moral. Abortion is here to stay. People of all genders get abortions. People of all religions get abortions. Abortion is a common and safe medical procedure,” said Stuart. “It is 10 to 20 times safer to have an abortion than to even continue pregnancy.”
Charsanaa Johnny, director of BIPOC relations with the Risebridge Project, and Jovonne Johnson, executive director of Risebridge, led demonstrators along the Harbourfront Walkway and down Front Street back to the pavilion.