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Pro-choice and anti-abortion protestors gather at Confederation Building

Nikki Baldwin, left, is the executive director of Planned Parenthood Newfoundland and Labrador and Nicole Boland, right, works with End Sexual Violence N.L. (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC - image credit)
Nikki Baldwin, left, is the executive director of Planned Parenthood Newfoundland and Labrador and Nicole Boland, right, works with End Sexual Violence N.L. (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC - image credit)

The Confederation Building in St. John's was the scene of two abortion rights protests Sunday.

Several anti-abortion protestors rallied on Prince Philip Drive, while more than 100 pro-choice counter-protesters gathered to challenge them.

Nikki Baldwin, executive director of Planned Parenthood Newfoundland and Labrador, says she attended and spoke at the protest to ensure that people know there is support for them when making choices about their reproductive health.

"What we want is people to be able to make the choice to be parents when they want to be parents, and that just improves the social determinants of that child's life," she said.

"We just need people to have this type of access because we know it saves lives. We know that people will always make their own decisions, that they will get an abortion, whether it's in a safe hospital or in their back room."

Nicole Boland, a representative from End Sexual Violence N.L., formerly known as the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre, said that not having access to reproductive health care amounts to gender-based violence.

"Forcing someone to have a child that they can't care for is gender-based violence," she said.

Boland noted that in Newfoundland and Labrador, people outside of St. John's who need access to abortion services already need to travel to receive that care.

"We also need to remember that every person, everywhere on the province, regardless of circumstance, deserves the same access and the ability to access the care that they need," she said.

Henrike Wilhelm/CBC
Henrike Wilhelm/CBC

Ruth Robert was one of the anti-abortion protesters. While there are abortion laws in Canada, Robert said "it is up for debate in the sense that I am still here debating it."

"These children have no choice except for the ones that we give them when we speak on their behalf and say they have a right to life," she said.

Abortions are fully legal in Canada.

In the United States, the law known as Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022. Now, Baldwin said that a year later, there are still concerns of issues to access of abortion in Canada.

"I think that it definitely is raising issues of access here in Canada," she said.

"People are pushing more the ways they can to limit abortion here. Or, limit access to abortion, and I think that it's really important that we set the watch on it."

She said that access to health care in this province is limited and access to reproductive and sexual health care is even further limited.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador