In the wake of an anti-abortion advertisement added to a GOVA Sudbury transit bus, the Sudbury Pro-Choice Coalition formed and began fundraising to add their voice to the conversation on abortion.
Now, after the immense success of that campaign, two pro-choice billboards designed by the group will be a part of the city’s landscape.
“The coalition’s pro-choice position is that nobody should be shamed for the decisions they make about their reproductive health,” reads the statement from the Sudbury Pro-Choice Coalition on their GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $2,000.
“Canada does not require laws restricting or otherwise regulating abortion. Abortion, like any other medical procedure, should be regulated by the medical community. Knowledgeable healthcare providers must have the freedom to draft evidence-based policy that provides for their patients’ best interests.”
The fundraiser is organised under the name Gerri Santoro, a pseudonym used by the coalition for the GoFundMe campaign. The name isn't a random one. Gerri Santoro was a real person, a woman who died in 1964 after receiving a back-alley abortion. Her story brought to light the many dangers of what are known as “illegal” or “unsafe” abortions — those pursued when legal options are unavailable or not considered an option.
When Sudbury.com first questioned the City of Greater Sudbury regarding the ad, the legality of which was questioned by many Facebook users, they responded in writing.
“Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the City cannot refuse or remove advertising, provided the ad content complies with the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. Residents who have a concern with an advertisement have the right to contact Advertising Standards Canada with their complaint.”
The group says the response to the Coalition’s move to create the pro-choice billboards is indicative of the desire for further discussion about the topic, at the least.
“Within three hours of launching this page, the group surpassed their initial target by more than 50 per cent, a strong indicator that Sudbury is ready and wants to have this conversation,” the group said.
The Coalition also speaks to the effects of restricting access to safe abortions. They believe abortion rights can be seen as “a proxy for attacking all women and gender-diverse people” and as a punishment for promiscuity.
“The idea that women who have and enjoy sex must be punished with pregnancy is fundamentally misogynistic and has served for centuries to keep women dependent on family structures that limit their freedoms and futures,” reads the statement.
The statement also points to lack of safe options as a factor in domestic violence. “Restricted access to abortion also keeps women in relationships with abusive or neglectful men, further traumatizes survivors of rape and incest, forces lesbian and bisexual women into the closet, lowers the incomes of Indigenous women and women of colour, and leaves gender-diverse individuals with few or no options for addressing any of their reproductive health concerns.”
The locations of the billboards will be announced very soon.
If you are pregnant and struggling with your options, or know someone who is, Public Health Sudbury and Districts provides a contact list for resources available to you regarding pregnancy, adoption and abortions. You can find these resources here.
If ending an unwanted pregnancy is the right choice for you, you can contact the Options Clinic at Health Sciences North at 705-671-5265.