By Jim Poling Sr.
From Shaman’s Rock
The abortion debate has flared into rage again in the United States, spilling of course, into Canada and elsewhere.
Much time, energy and money is spent arguing whether governments should allow women to terminate pregnancies. Wouldn’t all that time, energy and spending be better directed at lessening the chances of a woman having to make an abortion decision?
For instance, improving sexual and reproductive health services would reduce the need to worry about abortions.
Here in Canada, provincial health plans typically do not cover most contraceptive drugs and devices. Many people have to rely on private insurance plans, sometimes available through their employers.
Single women, who have a high percentage of abortions, often do not have the higher-level jobs that provide such benefits.
Much can be done to improve work life for women who must work to feed their children. Many of these are single mothers, who number almost one million in Canada. Nearly one-third live below the poverty line.
You can chalk that statistic up to inequality. Earnings of single moms lag well behind that of men – roughly 82 cents to the dollar for the same job. The gap is even larger for racialized women.
Also, the median income of Canadian families led by single women in 2020 was about $49,000 compared with $101,000 for married couples.
Working single mothers need improved programs that will help them raise their children while doing their jobs. Many have lower-level jobs with unpredictable work schedules that make it difficult to take care of children. They also need satisfactory paid family leave and affordable quality daycare.
Affordable daycare is on the way. The federal government has made deals with the provinces to provide $10-a-day daycare.
In Ontario, which has some of the highest daycare costs in the country, the average daily cost for daycare is roughly $70, which is difficult to handle for a single mother earning food outlet wages. However, earlier this year the province signed on to the federal plan that will lower the cost of daycare to $10, but not until 2025.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit single mothers particularly hard. One study has shown that the employment rate for single mothers has not rebounded as pandemic restrictions have eased.
An analysis of Statistics Canada data found that the employment rate for single mothers with children under age six was down 36 per cent between February 2020 and the end of 2021. Employment of mothers with partners and children in the same age group was up 4.5 per cent.
No matter what laws governments pass to control abortions, they will continue to be done. The plain facts are that the majority of women seeking abortions are poor, or categorized as low-income, and feel they cannot afford to raise children.
The Guttmacher Institute, a global research and policy institution says 75 per cent of women seeking abortions are living below the poverty line or are categorized as low-income. It believes that a comprehensive package of essential sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception and safe abortion care, should be included in national health systems.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that 73 million induced abortions take place worldwide every year. It includes abortions in its list of essential health care services.
Meanwhile the rekindled abortion debate continues to rage in the United States. It is a partisan debate that threatens to further tear the country apart.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to strike down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which said the U.S. Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to have an abortion without excessive government intervention. That decision basically made abortion legal in the U.S. but hard-line conservative groups have been trying for decades to get it reversed.
The Supreme Court’s decision on whether to strike down Roe v. Wade is expected at the end of next month or in early July. A leaked draft of the decision indicates it will strike it down, creating more massive unrest in a country that some people believe is already on the verge of another civil war.