Twitter once again shows the power of a vocal community when united under one hashtag.
Earlier today (May 9), an anti-abortion rally in Toronto sparked a widespread digital conversation about women’s rights using the hashtag #ProChoiceBecause.
After several conservative politicians appeared at the rally, some sharing intentions to eventually reinstate anti-abortion laws, activists and allies used the hashtag to share personal experiences and reasons to protect body autonomy laws.
Sam Oosterhoff, the 21-year-old MPP for Niagara West and pro-lifer, spoke to reporters at the gathering, pledging to make abortion “unthinkable” again in Canada.
"I'm pro-life. I believe children should be allowed to live, no matter how small they are," said Oosterhoff.
"We have survived 50 years of abortion in Canada and we pledge to fight to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime."
The stance was reflective of the general position of the Conservative party.
A similar rally took place on Thursday at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Women’s rights and pro-choice activists quickly clapped back on Twitter.
By 5:30 p.m., nearly 7,000 users were circulating the hashtag on Twitter, offering support or sharing termination stories. The subsequent hashtag #StandForChoice began to circulate as a sign of allyship, garnering nearly 2,000 mentions by the same time.
The social media movement garnered the attention of some major names in Canadian politics.
Leader of the New Democrats Jagmeet Singh tweeted the hashtag out earlier today:
#ProChoiceBecause access to safe, legal abortion is a fundamental right – and should be available to all.— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) May 9, 2019
Canada’s health minister and MP for Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, Ginette Petitpas Taylor spoke out:
Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary also weighed in:
I’m #ProChoiceBecause because women are free people who have the right to make their own decisions. Proud to have worked for a government in that believes in that freedom.— Gerald Butts (@gmbutts) May 9, 2019
So did former news anchor and Liberal party candidate for Vancouver Kingsway, Tamara Taggart:
Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford faced backlash after failing to condemn Oosterhoff’s comments.
"The Ontario PC Party is a big tent. We welcome members from a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs," said Ford. "The government will not re-open the abortion debate."
Andrea Horwath, Ontario’s official opposition NDP leader, spoke out against Ford’s comments.
"We are horrified that Doug Ford continues to refuse to denounce his MPP's dangerous, anti-choice and anti-women position," said Horwath.