I used to feel safe in the U.S. But after changes to abortion and gun laws, I want Canadian citizenship

This me column was written by Amanda Robb, an American journalist who contributed to the CBC podcast Someone Knows Something: The Abortion Wars. For more information on CBC’s first-person stories, visit the FAQs.

Coming from a white, middle-class background, there are many things you take for granted as an American citizen.

At least I have.

Perhaps most important is the feeling that you and your family are safe. Even on October 23, 1998, I didn’t lose that feeling. That night in Amherst, NY, an anti-abortion advocate slipped into the woods behind the house of my Uncle Bart—an obstetrician-gynecologist who not only delivered babies but also performed abortions. The extremist was carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle. Around 10:00 p.m., my uncle and his wife came back from the synagogue services. In her kitchen, Bart microwaved some soup. While the heat was on, he talked to his sons in the adjoining den, where they were watching a Buffalo Sabers hockey game. The extremist fired his rifle. At my uncle’s house there was a ringing and a small hole where the window glass shattered. Months later, Bart’s wife, Lynne, told me what happened next.

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“I think I was shot,” Bart said. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she told me. But it was too late. A bullet had already pierced my uncle’s body. He bled to death in seconds in front of his wife and children, aged between seven and 15.

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I was 32 at the time and shocked that America’s abortion wars and gun culture had taken a member of my family.

A blond woman is dancing with a bearded man.
Amanda Robb, left, worked with David Ridgen to solve the death of her uncle Dr. Barnett Slepian, right, and the possible connection to an anti-abortion movement. (Submitted by Amanda Robb)

But I didn’t think anyone or anything was coming for the rest of us. As strange and even silly as it may seem, the truth is that my sense of security (for myself and my remaining family) has endured through too many school shootings, mass shootings, climate catastrophes, the US Capitol riot and terrorist attacks including 9/11.

Then came June 23 and 24, 2022 – two dates I will always remember.

On June 23, the US Supreme Court ruled that a New York state law required residents to “demonstrate a special need for self-protection” to carry a firearm in public places was unconstitutional. Thanks to the Second Amendment, we Americans have “the right to own and bear arms.” In addition, according to the judges, there was no reason to exclude the “island of Manhattan”. just because it’s full.”

A woman stands on a balcony and looks out over New York City.
Amanda Robb became an investigative journalist after the murder of her uncle. (Evan Aagaard/CBC)

My husband, daughter and I live in Manhattan. It is an island in the middle of the Hudson River and is less than 60 square kilometers in size. On a typical weekday there is four million people here. That’s an average of 66,666 people per square kilometer. Before the Supreme Court overturned this New York law, 32 percent of Americans owned guns. So, I have to assume now that on average every square kilometer of my hometown at least 21,333 people have guns.

would you feel safe

The next day the same court upheld Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that gave all American women the right to have an abortion.

This has already had a profound impact on American women and girls. At least in the three months that have passed since the court made that decision 14 states have banned abortion and a ban has been put in place in the sixth week of pregnancy, before many people know they are pregnant.

I will cite just two instances of what has happened since then. A 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio had to travel to Indiana for an abortion. In Texas, a woman who was in severe pain and Bleeding during a miscarriage was refused treatment. The hospital staff told her to come back if she bled more – specifically to fill a diaper with blood every hour.”

would you feel safe

I don’t And I live in mortal fear of what could happen to my 22-year-old daughter.

I’ve spent the last three years working on the podcast for CBC Someone Knows Something: The Abortion Wars. It was one of the best work experiences of my life.

CLOCK | Amanda Robb met her uncle’s killer

After these two US Supreme Court decisions, I decided that I didn’t just want to work for Canadians; I wanted to be Canadian.

Why? Among my top reasons: Per capita, the The United States has about 3.5 times as many gun inventories as Canadaand a rate of gun homicides that’s about eight times higher. Likewise, Abortion has been legal in Canada since 1988when the Supreme Court in the case of R. v. Morgentaler ruled that a law criminalizing abortion was unconstitutional.

When I was 12, my Uncle Bart moved to a suburb of Buffalo less than 15 miles from the Canadian border. My mother, my sister and I visited him every summer after that until he was killed. We almost always made a day trip to Ontario.

I loved the country from a young age: the unspoiled countryside, the cities that looked European, the cities that looked futuristic, poutine, ahorn everything and even the way people there mean “about” as “aboot”. pronounce American ears. My paternal grandmother was a proud Manitoban and I hoped that would be enough to claim Canadian citizenship.

I was.

But Canada’s citizenship law was changed in 2009. Today you require a Canadian parent to qualify for citizenship and Other routes to citizenship have their own challenges. My elderly mother-in-law can’t just move, so as much as my family wants to apply for permanent residency in Canada, we will continue to live in New York. So for now I have to stay in the US, in the “safety” of my own home, scared to death.


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