Clarity on protocols within the Saskatchewan Legislature is being looked for by both the government and the official opposition, thanks to a shirt, which read “Abortion is Health Care.”
The shirt was worn by Moosomin’s Megan Johnston, the executive director of Abortion is Healthcare Signs. The non-profit looks to put up “Abortion is Healthcare” billboards across Saskatchewan, wherever a pro-life billboard stands.
Johnston said she was one of the last of her group — which held a rally on increased women’s healthcare outside the Legislature prior to session Wednesday — to go through security. Other rally-goers ahead of her were asked to not take in their protest signs.
When her turn came, she explained what the security officer said.
“The gentleman who was putting my belongings through the security scanner said, ‘Do you have another shirt?’ And I said, ‘No. Like why?’ And he said, ‘You cant have that word on it.’ Im assuming he was meaning “abortion,” not “health care,” she said.
“Then he told me I could turn it inside out. And then very specifically told me, ‘You have to turn it inside out.’ … I was like, ‘Okay, no problem. Like Im not trying to cause trouble.’”
Johnston took to Twitter to voice her displeasure of the interaction, which as of Thursday afternoon, has over 500 retweets, nearly 100 quote tweets and over 2,200 likes.
The ask hasn’t fallen on deaf ears.
The NDP, who invited the groups to the Legislature, said the government approached them to speak about changing the protocols, specifically those surrounding t-shirts.
“My understanding is there’s an agreement in the past that you can’t have protests in the building. Of course, I wouldn’t consider a shirt of this nature to be a protest,” said Meara Conway, the NDP’s Deputy House Leader.
Christine Tell, the Minister in charge of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety said she did not think the shirt was controversial.
She said the policies can be amended.
“We are looking at this aspect of it to ensure that it’s not arbitrary,” Tell said.
She adds that events such as Orange Shirt Day have taken place within the walls of the Legislature, without any individual having to turn their shirts inside out.
For Johnston, however, she believes that if she wasn’t with a group campaigning on the political item that is abortion, things would have been different.
“Im very curious if my shirt would have said, Oh, colonoscopy is healthcare or knee surgery is healthcare, if that would have caught anyones glance at all,” she said.
“I do not believe that saying abortion is healthcare should be a political statement.”