NRJ’s Statement on Advocating for Abortion Rights in Niagara
July 5, 2022
Niagara Reproductive Justice (NRJ) has become aware of increased interest in pro-choice activities in the Niagara Region in response to the overturning of Roe v Wade in the United States. Please note that NRJ is not involved in the planning of any local protests at this time. While we are encouraged to see the energy around pro-abortion discussions and activism, we are prioritizing activism that focuses on getting people in Niagara access to information and services. For folks in Niagara wanting to get connected with reproductive justice organizing, we would like to share the following suggestions:
- Reproductive justice means more than just supporting abortion access. Supporting people’s right to choose includes “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities,”* and how gender, race, class, and ability intersect with abortion rights and other issues such as migrant workers’ rights, the climate crisis, sex worker safety and rights, police and prison abolition, and access to harm reduction resources. *www.sistersong.net/reproductive-justice
- Activism takes many forms. Whatever form yours takes, you have to be open to criticism, collaboration, and accountability. Activism can be advocacy campaigns, education resources, community research, podcasts, rallies or protests, theatre performances, social events, concerts, phone banks, policy development, equity committees, carpooling, crafting, and so much more! In all of these cases, this work must be accountable to people who have historically been and are currently harmed by oppressive policies and laws, and exclusionary activism around reproductive and sexual health. For more information, see:
- Decriminalizing Abortion: Women of Color Continue to Lead the Fight for Reproductive Justice – Nonprofit Quarterly;
- Reproductive Justice: A Reading List – Black Women Radicals;
- Reproductive Justice resources for people who are incarcerated and those caring for people who are incarcerated – Wellness Within
- Listen to folks who have been actively excluded from abortion rights and access, as well as long-time activists in Niagara. Niagara has a long organizing history and community activists who have been pushing Niagara forward for decades, and they have already built much of the structures needed to address the many interconnected social justice issues. We must be guided by their work and be ready to provide the support they are requesting from us, not the other way around. Check out: Medicine for the Resistance, One Dish One Mic, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, OPIRG Brock, Justice for Workers Niagara, Willow Arts Community, OUTniagara, NAMES, Matter of Black and the Brock Student Justice Centre, just to name a few.
- Focus on Niagara and the lack of abortion access here, not just the U.S. The majority of people needing to access abortion in Niagara have to travel outside of the region to get the healthcare they need. NRJ provides information, resources, and support to people facing barriers to accessing abortion in Niagara. To support this work, visit our website and send us an email.
- Pay attention to the anti-choice activity happening in Niagara. Niagara is home to an active anti-abortion movement, with many “crisis pregnancy centres” (anti-abortion fake clinics) and other anti-choice organizations distributing harmful materials, putting up anti-abortion billboards, and influencing local politicians. Consider joining our Rapid Response Network to learn more.
Further recommendations for taking action:
- Learn more about what messaging and imagery to avoid when advocating for abortion rights;
- Write or call to your local MP and MPP using the template created by Action Canada;
- Share your experience with healthcare providers in Niagara to contribute to our database of affirming (or harmful) doctors and clinics in the region;
- Share your experience with abortion in Niagara to help us identify and address gaps in access;
- Report anti-choice activity in Niagara to help us more effectively counter anti-abortion narratives;
- Familiarize yourself with the list of anti-abortion organizations in Niagara and tell everyone you know to avoid these organizations.
NRJ is a group of community members in the Niagara Region of Ontario advocating for increased visibility of and access to sexual health resources in Niagara. We are an action group of OPIRG Brock, a social, economic, and environmental justice organization based in Niagara.