Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Here's what I've been reading this week (sorry it's a couple days late!):
Linda Gibbons was arrested at the Toronto Morgentaler Clinic
These idiotic anti-choice billboards about sad toys are back
Some idiot MP wants to re-open the abortion debate (surprise!) by arguing about the definition of personhood. Nothing new here.
PEI is pretty happy with the way they're ignoring women's rights.
What have you been reading over the holidays?
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Hey everyone, here's what I've been reading about this week:
Chretien warns that abortion and gay marriage could be on the chopping block
Linda Gibbons gets her day in court
Dunville responds to anti-abortion display
PEI pro-choice groups meet with the Health Minister, but things don't look promising
What have you been reading?
Friday, December 16, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
How does on go about reviewing a memoir? I feel as if I have to, in some sense, review Ms. Hoffman's life.
Merle Hoffman was one of the trailblazers of the pro-choice movement in the USA, a controversial feminist who opened one of the first ambulatory abortion centres in America, and who has lived a life of boldness, ambition and, dare I say it, ego. Many times throughout the book I wrinkled my nose in distaste at her decisions, and her attitudes, and then had to ask myself how much more “natural” I would have found them if she were a man. In that respect the book was very challenging for me, in a good way.
I knew pretty much nothing about Hoffman before I read the book, so it was all new to me. She writes well, and seems sincere and unapologetic about her life and her role in the struggle for abortion on demand. Where her writing is the most detailed and informative is near the middle of her life, when she describes the challenges of opening and running the clinic, being a public figure, and protecting herself and her staff from the violence of anti-choice activists. For those looking for insight on the “abortion wars” of the late 1970s and early 1980s, specifically in New York, this book comes highly recommended.
I found Hoffman’s focus to be a little off in terms of the flow of her book. She spent as much time detailing her decision to purchase and learn to use a gun as she does on her mother’s death. There is very little about her early life. Sometimes, her decisions seem to come out of nowhere, although I’m sure in reality they took a great deal of time and consideration. I would have liked to have known more about her ideology, how it changed and grew, what factors went into her decisions, than about the details of the decisions themselves. For example, Hoffman decided, as a 58-year-old widow, to adopt a three-year-old daughter from an orphanage in Russia. Her decision to do so, and all the subsequent stuff that happens – going to get her, introducing her to Hoffman’s mother, the reaction of Hoffman’s friends – occupy the last twelve pages of the book. It seems…disproportionate.
I liked reading about the abortion rights struggle and I think Hoffman’s story is informative and inspiring to some extent. However, I don’t know if it would create any kind of profound change or understand like, for example, Susan Wicklund’s This Common Secret. Hoffman comes across as absolute in her ideals and doesn’t make a lot of room in her book (or, perhaps, in her life) for explorations of her emotions, or the changing perceptions and lives of the people close to her. I had a hard time relating to Hoffman because I believe we have vastly different personalities; her affair with a married man bothered me not so much for the questionable morality of it than because of her complete lack of empathy for – in fact, outright dismissal of – the feelings of the man’s wife.
Perhaps the most maddening theme in the book is Hoffman’s constant mention of choices she makes that other feminists didn’t agree with or were shocked by, without exploring that conflict at all. I don’t feel she should have to justify each choice that is perceived “unfeminist”, but I would be interested to know how she fits her own outlook and life path into her identity as a feminist. I feel that in today’s young feminist movement she will be judged more harshly than she was during the second wave, for her unapologetic capitalism, her gun ownership, and especially her totally unexamined relationship to a man 28 years her senior, who acted not just as lover and husband but also mentor, financial backer, advisor and boss. There are many areas where Hoffman is vulnerable, and the book could have been richer and more challenging by examining these perceived deficiencies in her feminist persona.
Overall, however, I have to say I really enjoyed reading the book. I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about a period in history that had such a huge part in shaping the women’s movement today. I also enjoyed the challenge of reading about a person whose life and choices seem so alien to me. It was difficult but enriching. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for insight into the beginning of the abortion-on-demand movement in the USA, and/or hoping to read the story of an undeniably strong and fascinating woman.
For my interview with Merle Hoffman, keep an eye on Abortion Gang.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Joyce Arthur on the abortion debate
Abortion protest in Winnipeg
Things are really starting to happen around the lack of abortion services in PEI!
A Canadian abortion provider has written a new memoir
And don't forget to check out ARCC's autumn newsletter
Feel free to share other things you've been reading in comments.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Saturday, November 19 · 12:00pm - 4:00pm
Location: Peace Fountain by Province House on Grafton Street
PRRO - Prince Edward Island Reproductive Rights Organization - is organizing a reproductive rights rally to inform residents of Prince Edward Island what reproductive rights women are entitled to as decreed by the Canadian Government in 1988, but are being denied in Prince Edward Island.
Come out and have some coffee or tea, enjoy some busking, listen to informative speakers, learn something new and support a great cause.
Speaker List to follow.
There will also be a drop-off box for a Women's 'Zine. Please feel free to drop off any creative/ informative pieces you would like to contribute.
For more information about PRRO please visit PRRO's facebook group at :
Or the website at: http://www.prro.tk/
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Time Saturday, October 22 · 1:00pm - 4:00pm Location Victoria's Spirit Square (in Centennial Square) Created By On Saturday October 22nd come out and Rock for Reproductive Justice!
Rock for Reproductive Justice will include creative activism, music, and speakers. Come learn more about reproductive justice and showcase strong community support for access to reproductive health services. ASL interpretation and bus tickets will be available (firstname.lastname@example.org for bus tickets)
Music will include Witch Baby, Medusa and Claire Mortifee.
Joyce Arthur from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, UVic Political Science Professor Janni Aragon and others will be speaking on a wide-range of topics related to reproductive justice.
This event is in response to the presence of "40 Days for Life" in Victoria. Come out and support the ability of individuals to make choices about their bodies, sexuality, and families!
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
First let me say it does damage my Canadian feminist cred a bit to have not read this book until now, but hey, we all have flaws. I feel like coming to it later in my feminism is maybe a bad choice; I still loved it, but there were a lot of revelations and ideas that would have been revolutionary to me about five years ago. Stuff I had to find out on my own, without Atwood. That is sad, because I think I would always rather learn through Atwood.
For those unfamiliar with the plot, it is set in the not-so-distant future in the Republic of Gilead (formerly the USA). It is a theocracy of sorts, where women have narrowly defined roles and are marked by different coloured clothing. The story is told from the point of view of Offred, a handmaid, whose purpose is to produce children for a rich man and his wife. This new society is in its infancy and Offred (and the people in her life) can remember what it was like before.
Atwood apparently based the society (in part) on Iran, but there is nothing in the book that hasn’t happened somewhere, at some point. Her descriptions of the transition are particularly chilling because they are so believable. Looking at the politics in the USA right now (and to a lesser extent, Canada), yeah, the ideas are there. Thank goodness for the progressive voices speaking up. But when the narrator describes executed political prisoners hanging in public with signs denoting them as abortion providers, or “gender traitors”, it does not seem so far from our own world - the only difference is in our real life, it’s the citizens who do the killing; the government only offers politically expedient disapproval (depending on the government!).
I could take every single thing from the book and show a parallel with our current society, but that sounds painful. Instead I will just highly recommend that you read it - or if it’s been a long time since you’ve read it, give it another look. I think you’ll be surprised/horrified at how much more real it has become.
Also, I really want a “nolite te bastardes carborundorum” tattoo.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Saturday October 22, 1pm
North-east corner of College and University, Toronto
Anti-choice organizations in Ontario are mobilizing to attempt to pressure the provincial government to defund abortion in this province. Join this counter-rally to defend reproductive rights! Don't lose the right to choose!
Ontario Tory leader Tim Hudak signed a petition supporting defunding abortion, but when pressed recently to answer whether he would move to attack abortion rights if elected premier, he said "he would follow Prime Minister Stephen Harper's lead and leave the abortion issue alone."
With the Harper government excluding abortion funding from the maternal health initiative, constraining International Planned Parenthood and defunding groups that support reproductive rights, women know what 'following Harper's lead' means: eroding abortion rights one step at a time.
The same Conservatives who are the architects of the current federal attacks on abortion are advising the provincial conservatives today. We need to mobilize and show that the pro-choice majority will fight back against attempts to take away our hard-won reproductive rights!
Organized by the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics and the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
"The theme of the 2011 conference is "Maternal and Child Health," reflecting the rising international focus on the unique issues affecting the wellbeing of these vulnerable populations. Join us as our array of passionate and compelling speakers examine these issues, engage in discussion, and propose solutions for the future."Libby Davies, NDP MP for Vancouver East, is a keynote speaker, along with Ilana Landsberg-Lewis, a lawyer involved in international development and women's equality.Also as part of the conference, on Saturday, October 1, 2011, starting at 2:45 pm,Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada will be debating Andrea Mrozek of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada on the question: “Can Canada have an effective global maternal health policy by excluding funding for abortions?”The debate is open to the public and free of charge, so please attend if you can get to Kingston.To register for the entire conference: http://www.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Reproductive choice and access to abortion services is a right in Canada, but it’s not always easy or possible to access appropriate services to support that right.Opponents of choice are always looking for ways to turn back time and prevent women from having full control over their own bodies and their reproductive choices. And, depending on where you live in Canada, it can be difficult and expensive to access the support and medical services required to truly have “freedom of choice”.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC-CDAC) is dedicated to ensuring that women can exercise their right to health services equitably and without barriers. Your video can help us share diverse pro-choice perspectives, engaging others in our work and encouraging discussion and action.
Videos can be documentary-style, creative, artistic, action-packed, musical, journalistic or dramatic. Enlist your friends, family or classmates to help you, or make a solitary production. Tell us stories, entertain and inform us.
Videos must be between 30 seconds and 2 minutes long (:30 – 2:00 min). Videos entered must be original material and participants must acquire appropriate releases from all performers or interviewees. First prize is $500 and 2nd and 3rd prizes are $250 each.
Please follow the instructions on our website and read the Contest Rules carefully before creating and entering your video in the contest. If you have questions, please contact email@example.com
Let your voice for choice be heard around the world!
Friday, September 2, 2011
Calling All Young Pro-Choice Canadians Apply for Choice 101!
“Choice 101” will bring together 15 pro-choice Canadians from coast to coast to participate in an interactive 8-week course about pro-choice issues. The course will link you with other individuals who want to learn, share and contribute to the movement for sexual and reproductive rights in Canada.
You don’t have to be an expert to participate; just interested in learning more about pro-choice issues and sharing your ideas, experiences and questions with other people who are under 35.
We will be using teleconference calls to meet each week and we will create a networking site for people to post their thoughts, videos, drawings, web links, etc. to deepen our collective pro-choice knowledge. It’s a great way to broaden your pro-choice horizons and to strengthen the young pro-choice network across Canada.
- Pro-Choice, Sex-positivity, Attitudes, & Values
- Current Access Issues in Canada
- History of Abortion Politics in Canada
- Anti-Oppression, Intersectionality, & Privilege
- First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Women & Reproductive Justice
- Demystifying Sex Work
- Pro-choice Activism: Goals, Strategies & Tactics
- Joyce Arthur, Executive Director, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, which protects the legal right to abortion on request and works to improve access to quality abortion services. Before founding ARCC in 2005, she ran the Pro-Choice Action Network in British Columbia for 10 years and edited the national newsletter Pro-Choice Press, which she began in 1995. Arthur has written hundreds of articles on abortion and other political and social justice issues, spoken at dozens of venues in Canada and internationally, given hundreds of media interviews, and appeared in several documentaries. For more information visit: www.arcc-cdac.ca
- Patrizia Gentile, Assistant Professor in the Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies at Carleton University holds a Ph.D. from Queen’s University in the Department of History. Her dissertation was an historical study of beauty contests in Canada from the 1920s to the early 1990s. Professor Gentile is also co-author of The Canadian War on Queer: National Security as Sexual Regulation (UBC: 2010) with Dr. Gary Kinsman.
- Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau Work, Educate, Resist (POWER) is a non-profit, voluntary organization open to individuals of all genders who self-identify as former or current sex workers, regardless of the industry sector in which they work(ed) (i.e. dancers, street level workers, in and out call workers, phone sex, etc.) and to allies who share our vision.
POWER envisions a society in which sex workers are able to practice their professions free of legal and social discrimination, victimization, harassment and violence and in which sex work is valued as legitimate and fulfilling work making an important contribution to society. For more information visithttp://www.powerottawa.ca/:
- Julie Lalonde, co-founder of the Coalition for a Carleton Sexual Assault Centre and board member of Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. Julie is a feminist activist and part-time academic. She has been doing work in the reproductive justice movement and anti-violence movement officially and unofficially for about 8 years. Her work ranges from protest attending and organizing to public education campaigns. She currently sits on the board of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. She has a megaphone and is not afraid to use it. Follow her on twitter: http://twitter.com/AskingForIt
- Courtney Scalan, Community Education Coordinator of Planned ParenthoodOttawa (PPO), offers education, counselling and referral services to assist and support people in making informed sexual and reproductive health choices. PPO is a non-judgmental, pro-choice, confidential, supportive, GLBTTQ positive, youth positive organization. For more information visit: http://www.ppottawa.ca/
- And more! Stay tuned as more presenters are confirmed…
The course will be held from September 27 - November 15, 2011 once a week onTuesdays for two hours at: 14:00 (British Columbia); 15:00 (Alberta / Saskatchewan / Northwest); 16:00 (Manitoba); 17:00 (Quebec / Ontario / Nunavut); 18:00 (Atlantic); and 18:30 (Newfoundland).
All participants must complete our online application and consent form. The consent form needs to be signed and either scanned and emailed/faxed; or sent by postal mail.
Apply online now at: www.canadiansforchoice.ca The deadline to apply is September 19, 2011.
Participant selection will take into consideration provincial and regional representation as well as representation of diverse identities.