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Waterfront pro-choice rally will show support to U.S. neighbours

Canadian Saultite Kylan Hawke became increasingly uneasy about the rights of U.S. women and people with a uterus in regards to access of abortion services, especially after a draft decision by the U.S. Supreme Court was leaked to the media in May
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Kylan Hawks and Abby Obenchain stand at the boardwalk in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., which will be the site of a pro-choice rally on Saturday. A Facebook group was recently created by Hawks to show support to Michiganders who may soon lose the right to safe legal abortions.

A Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario group is planning a rally on the St. Marys River boardwalk Saturday in support of Michiganders who might soon lose the right to safe legal abortions if the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court becomes final.

Canadian Saultite Kylan Hawke became increasingly uneasy about the rights of U.S. women and people with a uterus in regards to access of abortion services, especially after a draft decision by the U.S. Supreme Court was leaked to the media in May.

“I was ruminating on what was happening in the States and it bothers me a lot and it’s a powerless feeling for me,” said Hawke. “I am passionate about women, I work with women and I have made a career out of it. I have experienced oppression as a woman myself and I think being born a woman automatically puts you in a vulnerable population, so when I saw what was going on over there and started reading about it and listening to podcasts I was really speechless.”

Hawke decided to create a Facebook group to support those in the U.S. who may need to seek out the procedure or who are concerned about the possible loss of bodily autonomy that would occur if the decision is made final and if Michigan decides to ban abortions.

“As soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned, some states will instantly have that access taken away,” said Hawke. “It’s going to be state by state and because Michigan is a swing state it can go either way.”

In just a few weeks the Facebook group has grown from just having Hawke as a member to hundreds of members.

“I shared it with my friends and they shared it with theirs and it went off from there,” she said.

One of those members who found the group is Abby Obenchain, who was born in the U.S. But has lived in Canada for decades.

“I care deeply about the rights of women in the U.S., as much as I do here. They are our neighbours, they are our friends and our family,” said Obenchain. “The idea that anybody else should be able to dictate when a woman has a child, it’s just mind-boggling to me that anybody thinks that’s okay.”

Although it is legal to access an abortion in Canada, there are no laws on the book that explicitly guarantee it as a right.

Obenchain said she is concerned obtaining safe legal abortions could eventually be taken away in this country, as well.

“I like to say when the United States sneezes, Canada catches a cold. So that’s a worry,” she said.

The group has organized a gathering to be held 11 a.m. Saturday at the westernmost end of the boardwalk in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and a number of Canadians and Americans have signed up to attend.

“I am referring to it as a gathering or a rally, it’s not really a protest because we are Canadian and they are American, so we can’t really protest on their behalf, but we can show ally-ship and support,” said Hawke. “I don’t know how many people are going to come out, it could be a couple, it could be more. We are creating signs and that seems to be an excitement because multiple people in the group sound like they have been looking for an opportunity for their voice to be heard and they already have their signs planned.”

People are welcome to walk up and down the boardwalk or to stay in one place, said Hawke.

Obenchain said it was important to hold the rally at a place facing

“If we comfort one person with a uterus across the river, it’s worth it to know that people in Canada are standing with them,” she said.

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Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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