Pro-choice supporters in Smithers rallied May 25 in support a woman’s right control her own body.
Jessy Taggart, a rape victim who organized the gathering at the corner of Main Street and Hwy 16, said recent events have underscored the continuing need for these kinds of campaigns.
“With the new laws about abortion down in the States, we’re really upset,” she said. “Nobody should tell a woman what to do with her body.”
Taggart is referring to the recent spate of so-called “heartbeat” abortion bans enacted in six states, which make abortions illegal at approximately six weeks, the point at which the pulsing of embryonic cells that later develop into a heart becomes detectable.
Since Donald Trump elevated Brett Kavanagh to the Supreme Court of the United States many legislators in conservative states see the shift in balance as an opportunity to challenge Roe v. Wade, the seminal 1973 decision that established a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion.
Although no mainstream political party in Canada wants to touch the abortion debate here, she said it is nevertheless necessary to raise awareness of the issue.
“We just recently had a protest, a bunch of women supporting anti-abortion,” she said, referring to a pro-life advocates holding signs along Hwy 16 a couple of weeks ago leading up to the annual March for Life held May 9 by groups across the country.
“Once they start telling women what to do with their bodies in one place it’s going to trickle up and when the government gets involved in what we do with our bodies, that’s where things go wrong.”
But it’s not just about abortion, Taggart said.
“It’s about rape, it’s about victim shaming, it’s about body shaming, it’s about not teaching your kids consent, not teaching your kids that they can speak up if someone’s touched them or done something wrong to them.”
The protest on the weekend was also personal for Taggart.
“I don’t think that someone that’s raped should be forced to have their attacker’s child,” she said. “It’s the anniversary of my rape last year, so it really hits home for me. I have never had an abortion, but I would never tell anybody else what to do with their body.”