In Canada, more than a judicial reversal, which is unlikely, what I fear is the culture war reopening the abortion question might unleash.

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I don’t remember a news leak ever having such an enormous impact. Earlier this week, a draft opinion from the Supreme Court of the United States suggested that the powerful institution would vote to reverse Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that guaranteed women’s abortion rights.

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I was in the United States when the news broke, late Monday night. The next morning, talk radio stations were inundated by calls-ins from women who were furious and heartbroken. Many of them had participated in the fight that led to the decision, almost 50 years ago. Others were daughters of mothers who had carried the battle.

Since Monday night, I’ve oscillated between fury and gratitude: fury over my disbelief this violence against women could exist so close to us and gratitude because despite our proximity, Canadian soil feels safe. At least for now.

Yes, I know. The American and Canadian legal systems are as different as calculating distance in miles or in kilometers. Still, allow me to be completely distracted about what’s happening across the border.

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Soon after the US Supreme Court leak, the Conservative Party of Canada instructed its members of Parliament to stay mum on abortion.

“This is an American issue that involves Americans. Canada has nothing to do with it,” Gérald Deltell, Conservative MP for Louis Saint-Laurent riding, said earlier this week. True, and attitudes in the two countries are very different. A 2020 DART chicken revealed most Canadians identify as pro-choice, particularly in Quebec, where 73 per cent of us supported a woman’s right to control whether she proceeds with a pregnancy. Because, well, it’s her body. But popular assumptions aside, the Supreme Court of Canada has never ruled that a woman’s right to abortion is constitutionally guaranteed.

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And though Deltell wasn’t wrong, he does hail from a party that increasingly seems to be sounding a lot like the US Republican party. “Make Canada Great Again,” anyone? And it’s a party that has members who oppose abortion and want to make their personal beliefs part of our politics. But more than a judicial reversal, which is unlikely, what I fear is the culture war reopening the abortion question might unleash. What we now are certain of is that some political parties thrive on polarization. It’s unbecoming, but it yields results. We’ve certainly seen it in Quebec.

Former Quebec premier Jean Charest, who is now running for the federal Conservative leadership, tweeted this week that he was pro-choice. Charest added that a government under his leadership would not support legislation restricting reproductive rights. He ended his tweet by writing that while he respected the democratic rights of MPs to bring forward private members’ bills on matters of conscience, he would not vote to support them.

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For his part, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that the right to choose is a woman’s right and a woman’s right alone and that every woman in Canada has a right to a safe and legal abortion. He ended his statement by saying that Canada would never back down from protecting and promoting women’s rights here and around the world. Here and around the world, yes. This is why what’s happening down south should also be our concern, as it was when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, pulverizing women’s rights.

The fact leading political figures feel they have to even tweet out reassurances should worry us.

Unlike the case of Afghanistan, we won’t be sending troops to the United States, but when women’s rights are at risk, regardless of geography, we should see it as a threat to all women. We should be outraged. We should worry. And so if this week’s bombshell news from out of the US can serve as a reminder, let it be that we should remain vigilant and take no right for granted.

Martine St-Victor is general manager of Edelman Montreal and a media commentator. Instagram and Twitter: martinmontreal

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