More than 300 pro-choice counter-protesters marched from Parliament and set up shop across from the Elgin St courthouse, chanting, "My body, my choice!”
This was to let the approximately 20,000 Catholic pro-life protesters marching know that women have autonomy over their bodies.
Seema Shah, 27, carried a bullhorn as she marched. She is pro-choice and the mother of a small child. The East Indian immigrant points to the 600 missing aboriginal women as a reason for women to still feel unsafe.
“It would be much easier for me to have a family if Canada had a national childcare plan, if it was safe for racialized women to have children and if I was paid as much as my male counterparts. But as it is, I'm pro-choice; the state needs to consider these things before they change the rules on abortion,” she says.
Rebecca Davies, 22, saw the march go down Elgin St and spontaneously joined in. In high school, she used to attend pro-life protests on Parliament Hill because she went to a Catholic school and it was a mandated field trip.
“Back then, I didn’t know what ‘pro-life’ meant. I just thought it was a good way to get out of class. But it felt so negative, especially with all those photos of aborted fetuses. I don’t believe in that,” she says.
Pro-choice counter-protesters take their message to the street.
Brad Marks, 24, says he came to the event because he feels that supporting women’s choice to have children “makes sense.”
“Obviously, the government will never get rid of legalized abortions. But coming to this march is a good reminder of how we can lose our rights if we don’t speak up,” he says.
As the Knights of Columbus marched past, women flashed their breasts at them (and some chucked moons), saying, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!” In attendance were burlesque performers Koston Kreme and Thundercunt.
The protest wound down after 2:30pm.
The counter-protest is an annual event. But some attendees were moved to protest after Jim Watson declared “Respect for Life Day” in Ottawa. Watson says he is pro-choice but insisted he signed the document to respect free speech and diversity of opinion.