By Michael Boriero – Local Journalism Initiative
The U.S. Supreme Court appears to be in favour of overturning Roe v. Wade, according to a leaked initial draft majority opinion published by Politico on Monday, and it has put women’s centres, shelters and advocacy groups on notice in the Eastern Townships.
Although the draft opinion has no immediate impact in the United States, if the apparent majority holds up, then the landmark decision from 1973 could be overturned come June, when the court’s ruling is formally released to the public. But nothing is certain yet.
Gayl Rhicard, a coordinator at the Avante Women’s Centre in Bedford, was in disbelief when she heard about the draft opinion. The centre, which promotes and defends women’s rights towards autonomy and equality, believes women should always have freedom of choice.
“Women’s centres promote women’s freedom of choice concerning sexuality and reproduction. We believe it’s every woman’s personal choice,” Rhicard wrote in an email to The Sherbrooke Record on Tuesday, offering an official statement from the Avante Women’s Centre.
She also had some choice words for the Supreme Court threatening to end its 49-year-old legal precedent that legalized abortion across the country, but she preferred not to share those opinions with the public. Needless to say, Rhicard is incensed by the controversial news.
Centre Femmes des Cantons Coordinator Josiane Whittom told The Record in a phone interview that more than 200 women received an abortion in Brome Missisquoi last year. The problem is these laws to protect women are not untouchable, she said, it’s a constant battle.
This is a grave situation for all women in the United States, Whittom continued, as they may no longer have agency over their own bodies. She worries that women will be forced to resort to outdated abortion techniques that might put them in danger. It’s a step back, she said.
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