Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Call to Action

Today's blog will not be about the clinic (although we did have a clinic - first one of the new year! Woot!). Instead, I have a special message to bring you from an Edmonton pro-choicer, which I received through ARCC (and yes, I have permission to post it here).

If you have suggestions for Stephanie, or offers of help, you can contact her at

I am a student at the University of Alberta, a feminist, and an avid and dedicated supporter of a woman's right to choose. With the revelation of a "secret" parliamentary committee trying to take away that right, and recent attempts to legally identify the fetus as a "person", I'm sure you'll agree that this issue continues to be very pressing and important, and that those who support a woman's right to choose must continue to be vigilant in protecting that right.

In Edmonton, the public transit service - the Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) - has chosen to sell advertising space, through Pattison advertising, to the Edmonton anti-choice group. The posters in the transit stations include gross distortions of the truth - for example, that 95% of women who have had abortions regret it (I would like to know where they get these stats from), and that the government of Canada allows women to abort at anytime during pregnancy, right up to the ninth month of gestation. I have written to my city councellors and have been told that the ETS contracts their advertising out and that nothing can be done and the posters will stay up. In other words, city council has passed the buck to ETS, who has, in turn, passed it on to Pattison. I do not believe or accept that anyone's hands are tied in this matter - the ETS chooses its advertiser, and Pattison chooses who it sells advertising space to. It was suggested to me that my only option is to buy advertising space to counter the anti-choice posters, and let the public "make their own decision." A publicly-funded bus/train stop is not the venue through which to debate or discuss such personal and private issue. Moreover, the debate was decided twenty years ago with the Morgentaler decision, so there is nothing to discuss.

I am writing because I am looking for support and advice in the battle against the anti-choice movement and their poster campaign in Edmonton. The following is my tentative plan of action:

-Write formal letters to city counsel, the ETS, and Pattison, and clearly cc a number of organizations in those letters, such as the ARCC, making it clear that this is not one individual complaining, but a collection of progressively-minded citizens and social justice groups who are willing and ready to take action against the city's apparent support of the anti-choice movement

-Contact companies/organizations that advertise through Pattison and exert pressure on these groups, which include the Government of Alberta and the University of Alberta, to not do business with a seemingly anti-choice advertiser

-Pressure the Student Union at the University of Alberta to boycott the ETS and cancel the U-Pass contract with ETS (the U-pass is a mandatory fee that registered students pay to use transit services throughout the academic year). This action can extend to other universities/colleges that have a similar contract with the ETS

-Start a city-wide poster/publicity campaign (not through Pattison!) questioning whether or not the City of Edmonton, the ETS, and Pattison are anti-choice, and if so, if progressively minded citizens want their tax dollars spent supporting a municipal government and transit service that places women as second class to fetuses, which, in my opinion, is tantamount to state-sanctioned misogyny.

I am asking for any help, direct or indirect, and suggestions you are willing to offer. Women's equality and autonomy in this country is tenuous at best, and it is clear that the current government is actively seeking to roll back the gains women have made in Canada. For this reason, I think that we need to continue to actively resist any and all attempts to undermine our rights. I am hoping that we can pool our resources and take a stand against the anti-choice movement - can you help?

Thank you,
Stephanie Fletcher


Anonymous said...

Pamela Pizarro wrote an article regarding last year's anti-choice bus shelter propoganda (e.g. the ones that were pulled from Hamilton buses and bus shelters). At the end she suggests filing a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada.

Here is a link to her article :

Advertising Standards Canada:

I can't believe they're trying to pull that crap again.


Independent said...

Re: the "secret" pro-life caucus. I wrote Keith Ashfield a short e-mail asking him if he is a member of this caucus. He never replied.

Anonymous said...

although i do not agree with the anti-choice stance, y would u atempt to fight against their right to advertsie for their cause. the have a right to free speech, and if the advertising company sells them space, there is nothing you can do...."i dont agree with what you say i will defend to the death yuor right to say it" this is alberta the biggest conservative stronghold in canada, give it up

Anonymous said...

This is not about free speech.
Certainly those who prefer illegal abortion to legal abortion are allowed to publicize their views.
But they are not allowed to tell lies. That is why Advertising Standards Canada declared the first ad campaign deceitful (9 months, the length of time... etc.) and why they cannot say that "95% of women regret their abortions." If that is true, then prove it, with statistics. Oh but that's not possible is it?

It is, however, possible to expose and denounce the misinformation that is continually spewed from the anti-choice crowd.

Alberta publicly funds abortions and there is very little press given to the anti groups here; far less than in New Brunswick, for example. There are many pro-choice people in Alberta, and many conservatives are pro-choice [they realize that forcing women to give birth against their will is not only a criminal act, but rather difficult to enforce].

Independent said...

Certainly those who prefer illegal abortion to legal abortion are allowed to publicize their views.

Isn't that also a bit of misinformation? I think the protestors would prefer no abortions at all.

Anonymous said...

Then why do they mostly lobby for making abortion illegal, instead of actually decreasing its incidence? Trying to decrease abortion would entail lobbying for increased birth control. In fact, the anti-abortion movement is opposed to birth control education and accessibility.

Anonymous said...

To suggest that the Life movement is "opposed to birth control education" is a sweeping statement and for the most part inaccurate.

Anonymous said...

As an aside...abortion is legal at anytime although access to it is not available during the late stages of pregnancy. The reason for this is that Canada currently has no abortion law on the books.

Anonymous said...

Re: distortions of truth - "the government of Canada allows women to abort at anytime during pregnancy"

This is completely true. It is not illegal to abort a fetus at any time during pregnancy, including late in the final trimester. The latter applies whether or not the abortion is a medical necessity.

If you can find a doctor with no ethical scruples over aborting a fully formed fetus, away it goes.

Anonymous said...

Abortion is heavily regulated within the health system, and is very difficult to access after 20 weeks. Abortion is indeed not part of the criminal code. In Canada, it is considered a health issue, not a criminal issue. That is a good thing.

I stand by my statement that the anti-abortion movement is opposed to birth control. By "anti-abortion movement" I don't mean people who are personally opposed to abortion. I mean people who organize, picket abortion clinics, set up anti-abortion "pregnancy advice" centres, write letters to government on a regular and organized basis. I mean the main provincial and national organizations. They are officially opposed to sex education and birth control.

Anonymous said...

Yay! Clinic happened which means some babies were aborted. Yay!

Seriously that should be celebrated? It doesn't do much for the line of those who support access to abortion that really they don't want abortion. Ideally there's a clinic and no one shows up and Morgentaler is out of business not because it's against the law but because no one wants an abortion.

Anonymous said...

I join told all above.