Abortion is often called a “settled issue” in Canada, an area where “social peace” has been achieved. In reality, however, abortion is still politicized in Canada.
Much remains to be done to improve access to abortion in Canada, even though significant progress has been made since the Supreme Court threw out Canada’s unconstitutional abortion law in 1988. Abortion is still politicized in Canada, and it’s still difficult to access for many women and gender minorities. The focus of ARCC-CDAC is to ensure that everyone can exercise their right to this health service equitably and without barriers.
National coordination is needed to tackle the many problems we still face. Provincial, local, and regional pro-choice groups have been working separately for years to improve access to abortion. (The previous national pro-choice group, CARAL, the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League of Ottawa, disbanded in 2003.) When ARCC was founded in 2005, it was a critical time for regional groups to come together in a new coalition.
The anti-choice movement in Canada is still strong and active, with a large base of supporters and organizational resources that far exceed those of the pro-choice movement. Anti-choice activists remain committed to various campaigns, such as working to defund abortion, spreading misinformation about abortion, and promoting policies and laws to restrict abortion or make it harder to access. Although no serious violence has occurred against Canadian abortion clinics or providers since 2000, picketing and various forms of low-level harassment continue, and all those involved with abortion provision remain on constant alert for potential violence.
For more information on access, see our Backgrounder, Abortion Access Issues.
To understand why abortion is a medically-required service, see our Position Paper Abortion Is a “Medically Required” Service and Cannot be Delisted.
To ensure reproductive freedom by protecting and advancing rights and access to abortion and to quality reproductive health care.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) is “pro-choice”, with a primary focus on ensuring abortion rights and access for women and transgender people capable of pregnancy (“trans”). ARCC affirms the following:
- To achieve equality, all women and trans people must have the right to decide for themselves whether and when they will bear children, and how many. Without control of their fertility, they cannot have autonomy over their lives and cannot play a full and equal role in society.
- Women and trans people have a constitutionally-based right to unrestricted, fully-funded abortion, without legal or other barriers or discrimination due to gender, class, ethnicity, race, age, location/region (or area of residence), or any other characteristic, including reasons for choosing an abortion. The rights of pregnant persons must not be abridged— according to Supreme Court precedent, a pregnant woman is “one person”.
- Everyone has the right to receive a full range of reproductive healthcare options, services, and information, including (but not limited to) medical and surgical abortion, contraception, family planning services, and comprehensive sexual health education.
- Everyone has the right to access reproductive healthcare services safely and in a timely manner, in an atmosphere of dignity, privacy, respect, trust, and compassion.
- All abortions are medically required—not “elective”—and fall under the protection of the Canada Health Act (just like all childbirths), regardless of where they are performed – hospitals, clinics, or doctor’s offices. The delivery and funding of abortion and other medically required reproductive healthcare services must meet the Act’s five principles.
- Providers of reproductive health care services have the right to deliver such services free of discrimination, harassment, and violence.
ARCC also supports the concept of Reproductive Justice. We recognize that the sexual and reproductive health and rights of people from many diverse communities are disproportionately affected by marginalization and oppression, including the LGBTQ community (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer), Indigenous communities, racialized communities, youth, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups. To ensure justice, fundamental inequalities must be addressed for all. (Please see our Position Paper #100 on Reproductive Justice for more information.)
Our Mandate & Goals
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) is a broad-based national feminist organization consisting of groups and individuals who support ARCC’s vision and mandate. It recognizes and respects the cultural and political diversity of our country and its provinces and territories, works to represent as many women and communities as possible (including transgender), and operates in both official languages.
ARCC acts as a “voice for choice”. Its primary mandate is to undertake political and educational work on reproductive rights and health issues.
ARCC’s main goals are to:
- Protect and improve access to reproductive health services, especially abortion
- Prevent and work against any reduction of reproductive health services or infringement of reproductive rights
- Advocate and lobby for reproductive choice and services, and educate the public
- Support abortion providers and clinics, including training of new providers
- Support pro-choice communities and activism, especially involving youth and students
- Counter anti-choice interference and misinformation
- Network and collaborate with other organizations to further ARCC’s vision and mandate
Notwithstanding the above goals, ARCC’s structure, work, and priorities will flexibly support any Reproductive Justice issue that may impact peoples’ rights, choices, and health.