If you’re driving along Saskatchewan highways, there’s a good chance you’ll see some anti-abortion billboards. But now, if you’re in Aylesbury, about 100 kms northwest of Regina, you’ll also see an “Abortion is Healthcare” billboard too. “We are trying to decrease the stigma and also increase availability and accessibility to those who need access to abortions,” said Rachel Regio, vice-president of Abortion is Healthcare Signs Inc, which paid for the billboard. The group plans to put up more billboards throughout the province.
SOURCE: CBC News, by Yasmine Ghani, 1 November 2022 ; VISUAL by Rachel Regio
Woman told to change her ‘Abortion is healthcare’ T-shirt in order to enter Saskatchewan legislature
Megan Johnston was among numerous people at a rally outside the Saskatchewan legislative building who went through security to watch the debate about the lack of abortion services. She was wearing a black T-shirt with white letters saying “Abortion is health care”. She was told by legislative security she couldn’t wear the shirt because it had the word “abortion” written on it.
Megan later told reporters she was escorted to the washroom to turn the T-shirt inside out. “He said you can’t wear that word.” She assumed he was referring to the word abortion. “He couldn’t even muster up the courage to say the word abortion. I was just really, really shocked.”
Legislative security officials confirmed the incident, saying security was following protocol outlined on the legislative assembly website related to placards that are allowed in the assembly. Officials suggested further questions should be sent to the Ministry of Justice.
What happened appeared to have overshadowed the debate in the assembly over access, or lack thereof, to surgical abortion in Saskatchewan.
Health Minister Paul Merriman told reporters the government was looking into possibly expanding surgical abortion services. He noted there were discrepancies in what is available in Regina vs. Saskatoon.
Caitlin Cottrell, executive director of Saskatoon Sexual Health, said there were no options in smaller centres for those who live in rural communities; they must go to Regina or Saskatoon for surgical abortions.
However, Regina and Saskatoon have different requirements. People can get a surgical abortion without a referral up to 18 weeks of pregnancy in Regina. In Saskatoon, they need a doctor referral and service is provided up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Megan Johnston, who is part of the billboards group, said: “How can we advocate for abortion if we can’t even say the word?”
SOURCE: Regina Leader-Post, by Jeremy Simes, 9 November 2022