Kelowna march to defend reproductive rights planned on Sunday

Pro-choice walk in Kelowna

The organizer of an upcoming march in Kelowna says the walk is intended to defend reproductive rights and honour people in the United States who have struggled to access healthcare after Roe v. Wade was overturned last year.

The Remembering Roe march will start on May 14 at noon, with participants meeting at the entrance to Kelowna City Park. The group will march along the waterway to the steps of the Kelowna Courthouse.

Joelle Wolf, organizer and a local full-spectrum doula who specializes in abortion and loss said her main message is to bring hope to people who are afraid of losing their reproductive rights.

“There are people fighting, and will always be fighting for our rights up here,” Wolf said.

"They're not alone in the fear that seems to be brewing and growing. People are on this, and we're going to come together, and we're going to make our voices heard.”

Two similar marches took place in Kelowna last year, one on May 14, 2022, and another in June, in support of reproductive rights.

The rally held last May was a show of solidarity with protests happening in several cities after a leaked draft document suggested the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling and strike down the constitutional right to an abortion in that country.

“When we did those marches, it became really clear that a lot of people up here were deeply concerned and felt personally impacted as well,” Wolf said.

She said the main focus of this year’s walk is to honour those who have been harmed because of abortion bans across the United States.

“When they don't have access to life-saving reproductive care, they are at risk, even if they don't plan to have an abortion,” Wolf said.

“If they are experiencing a miscarriage and need medical care to resolve that, if those drugs and those procedures are banned, they aren't able to access them until basically, their lives are in the balance.

"And without a doubt, some of those people will not survive it.”

The Kelowna march, held on the one-year anniversary of the first such walk, coincidentally falls on Mothers’ Day — something Wolf said is an important reminder.

“Parenthood should not be a consequence. It should be something that you go into willingly and lovingly so that you can make a safe and accommodating home for the children,” she said.

She encouraged anyone interested in joining the march to bring signs if they wanted, as well as items to use for shade and sunscreen as hot temperatures are forecasted.

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