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How abortion rights work in Canada — and whether they could be put at risk – National



How abortion rights work in Canada — and whether they could be put at risk National


Abortion in Canada is unlikely to face the legal threats it is facing in the United States, but experts say there are still ways the right can be undermined.

Several states are facing international criticism over legislation that moved to limit abortions. The new laws will almost definitely be blocked while legal challenges play out. The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade said a woman has the right to choose whether to have an abortion.

READ MORE: Here are the U.S. states pushing to ban abortions in 2019

Jessica Shaw, an assistant professor with the University of Calgary’s faculty of social work, says Canada’s approach to abortion is different from those south of the border.

“There are lots of differences between the two countries, but one of them is how abortion is taken up by politicians and the media,” Shaw explained. “Canada has a strong history since 1988 of shutting any attempt to reopen the abortion debate in Parliament.”

WATCH: Alabama lawmakers outlaw abortion

She noted it’s often the opposite in the U.S., where abortion is “consistently discussed and reintroduced and debated.”

But abortion rules are still the source of significant debate in Canada. Here’s a look how abortion rules were formed in Canada — and whether they could ever face a challenge like the one in the U.S.

Why Canada doesn’t have an abortion law

Abortion — in some circumstances — was decriminalized in Canada under the Pierre Trudeau government in 1969, but it had to be approved by “therapeutic abortion committee.”

Rachael Johnstone, a postdoctoral fellow at The Balsillie School of International Affairs who studies abortion rights, explained that access to these committees was very difficult for women, especially outside cities.

READ MORE: Answers to common questions on U.S.’s recent restrictive abortion laws

It wasn’t until the 1988 ruling in the R v. Morgentaler case that the Supreme Court of Canada said that abortion law violated Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“That decision struck down Section 251 of the Criminal Code and we got rid of therapeutic abortion committees,” Johnstone explained.

Johnstone said that parliament tried to create a law to reflect the Supreme Court decision, but was never successful because the debate was so polarizing.

“It was very difficult for them to try to get anyone to agree because those who were in favour of improving abortion access did not want restrictions, then there were those who wanted to recriminalize it.”

Could provinces do what U.S. states are doing?

After the 1988 decision, abortion was treated like any other medical procedure without a law governing it — and therefore it’s now up to provinces to regulate access.

“It’s one of the reasons why we can still say we have something of a patchwork access to abortion in Canada,” Johnstone noted, explaining some provinces have more access than others. Access also varies based on whether women live closer to cities or in rural areas.

“Since 1988, there have been many provincial court cases that have significantly changed the landscape of access,” she said.

READ MORE: Where in Canada can you get an abortion? It’s secret — for security reasons

However, Johnstone explained that because in Canada criminal law is federal jurisdiction, provinces don’t have the same abilities that U.S. states do.

“The provinces can’t act in the way that states are acting, because power is divided up differently,” Johnstone said.

She noted that in the past, provinces have “tried to effectively recriminalize abortion by blocking access. Rather than going a strictly legal route to restricting access, they’ve tried to change the regulation threshold.”

While the abortion debate is largely left aside by both federal and provincial leaders, it does reappear once in a while.

WATCH: Premier Doug Ford on women’s rights, being booed and municipal funding

Earlier this month, for example, Ontario MPP Sam Oosterhoff told a group of anti-abortion protesters, “We have survived 50 years of abortion in Canada and we pledge to fight to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford released a statement later that day saying his government would not reopen the debate over abortion, and despite being asked repeatedly about Oosterhoff’s comments, he has not addressed them.

Some provinces have also taken steps to protect abortion rights and make it more easily accessible. Most recently in June 2018, Alberta passed the “Protecting Choice for Women in Accessing Health Care Act.”

WATCH: Anti-abortion billboard raising concerns in Dartmouth

Do we need a law?

The debate over whether Canada needs an actual law solidifying abortion has two schools of thought among the pro-choice community, Shaw explained.

Several advocacy groups have argued for years that Canada needs an abortion law.

“Those who argue for an abortion law would like to see abortion protected in the same way that we affirm sexual orientation, the same way that we affirm gender identity now saying that discrimination based on gender is inappropriate,” Shaw said.

On the other hand, some say it’s better to leave abortion rules in Canada as they are.

“On the same spectrum, but on the other side, there are folks who say the absence of any law keeps it from being something that can be attacked legally,” she added.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali



Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu

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Harris accepts VP nomination



Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself



Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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