The people and the state disagreed on the issues of abortion and birth control. Women have always been trying to control their bodies and reproduction. It is interesting to look into the reasons for this. Why does the government care if women are using birth control or getting abortions? I think it is part of control. The Canadian government has historically been white old guys. This means that restrictions on reproductive rights are part of race, gender and class. If women are clearly in support for reproductive rights then how can the government not support it:
“popular support for birth control had grown; in 1961, 55% of Canadians said that birth control was not morally wrong. In 1965, that number climbed to 67%.24 The nation’s Catholics were also on board with 71% of those polled asserting that it was possible to use artificial methods of birth control and still remain good Catholics.” (Sethna, 5)
All these women supported freedom of reproductive rights but the government did not. I believe that reproductive rights were restricted as part of patriarchical control over women. If you can control a women’s body you can control her. If women cannot control their reproductive rights they will have less opportunities for freedom of sexuality and other aspects of their lives. They may miss out on education and careers because they are pregnant or caring for a child. They could also become severely harmed or even die from trying to find birth control and abortions. By limiting reproductive rights women are controlled by restrictions on reproductive rights that the government has in place.
Another reason governments have restrictions of reproductive rights could be class and race. If the government is made up of middle to upper class old white men then limiting lower classes and non white races could be part of the reason the government could be against reproductive rights. Abortions have always been accessible to the rich, it is the poor lower class who are most affected by these restrictions. As shown in the previous posts on sterilization, reproductive rights are a class and race issue. Eugenics and keeping Canada a “white country” are reasons to not only sterilize poor and racial minorities but to also limit reproductive rights for white women. By doing these two things the “unwanted’ races and classes have a lower birth rate and the “wanted” “pure” white race has a higher birth rate.
With politicians like Pierre Trudeau declaring that “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.” (Sethna, 5), you would think that they would also realise that the state has no place in the wombs of the nation. The people fought in the many ways already shown in these blog posts (Abortion Caravan, Birth Control Handbook…) and because of this were able to beat the state and take abortion and birth control off the criminal code.