Friday, December 21, 2012

So it Begins


A guest post by Mary Wilson

I feel a little foolish writing parenting posts. There is no shortage of parenting advice online. One of the biggest genres of blog is the mommy blog. This is our village, and we're raising children in the only community we know.

In that vein, all parenting advice is bullshit and never applies to all kids or all parents. I have bought and read 5 parenting books and regularly read parenting blogs in the almost 5 years since I became pregnant with my first child and though I have learned useful bits from each of them, none had "all" the answers. No one had all the answers, and anyone who claims otherwise knows fuck all about parenting.

So, here I am, ignoring my own misgivings and writing about parenting. Please, take anything and everything I say about parenting, motherhood, and childcare with a substantial grain of salt. I have no experience with early childhood education, child psychology, or any other academic study of the development of children. I speak from my own experiences as a young, white, middle class, able-bodied, cisgender mother of two equally able-bodied white children. I will do my best to check my privilege at every opportunity and please point it out when my privilege is showing. There are experiences that every parent shares and I want to provide my take. Writing about parenting is more to help me put my experience into perspective than it is for me to tell you how you will experience parenting.

So, on to the parenting. I’ll start at the beginning because I have a well practiced rant about pregnancy and a woman’s body. This does not necessarily go under “parenting” because experiencing pregnancy does not automatically make you a parent, and being a parent does not mean you experienced pregnancy. It’s just a convenient starting point.

I loved being pregnant. I loved feeling the little being inside me moving and growing. I didn't love the aches, the pain, the heartburn. I knew going into both pregnancies that there is a physical toll to be paid for undergoing that much physical change in such a short time. That said, there wasn't much that I truly hated about being pregnant.

I only really hated one thing.

I hated being treated like an incubator. I hated that not only did I have to share my body with this potential person, the obvious physical signs of pregnancy meant that I was sharing my body with the world. Intellectually I knew I would be giving up some autonomy to the potential person sharing my body but I was not emotionally prepared to have that autonomy taken by my family or anyone else for that matter.

Being pregnant and the resulting barrage of “you can’t/shouldn’t do that!” reminded me that few people trust women to make their own decisions about their bodies. Pregnant women are constantly told “Don’t” by people totally uninvested in their health or well-being. While pregnant the only opinions that matter are the same opinions a pregnant woman would take into account while not pregnant. Health decisions (including diet and physical capabilities) should be made between a woman and her doctor or midwife, and even the doctor or midwife should be challenged if she or he recommends something that the pregnant woman doesn’t think will help.

Pregnancy is a confusing time with so many physical and emotional changes it really helps to trust your instincts, trust how you feel and listen to your body. If a woman doesn’t know how she feels or what her body is saying to, that’s ok. Everyone is allowed to feel shitty, elated, or confused, especially when being blasted with puberty-level hormones.

If you are pregnant, or intend to become pregnant there are many things you need to consider but the second most important thing (after “am I ready/do I want to be a mother”) is “Am I ready to share my body even more than I already do?”


***

Mary Wilson is a mom, wife, geek, and crafter, but not necessarily in that order. She is raising two preschool aged girls in small-town Nova Scotia with the help of a husband and a greyhound. She has an undergrad degree in philosophy and women's studies and currently works for an e-commerce site making how-to videos for YouTube. She has no idea how any of the above happened but has decided to roll with it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

His Right to Choose


A guest post by Jessica Prominski

“Abortion”—the context and meaning of this word has been in the media, legislation, and public discourse. Nations and states have discussed, decided on, and revised abortion legislation for decades. And yet, the discussion never seems to end.

First, I am a self-identified heterosexual woman and I identify as feminist. I am pro-choice. This has an impact on the way I view pro/anti-choice legislation and abortion. However, while my feminism is about choice, it’s also about inclusion and addressing limitations of supporting rigid gender roles and gender expression.

I was reminded of the consequences of supporting and teaching rigid gender roles when I was talking to a previous sexual partner about abortion. We were not having sex (defined here as penetrative intercourse) but I am fascinated with people’s responses to abortion and discussions around choice. My partner previously identified to me that he is pro-choice. When I asked him what he would think or do if I got pregnant, I was surprised at his answer. My previous partners indicated they would not only support but would actually prefer me getting an abortion should pregnancy become a reality for us.  However, he indicated that he sees pregnancy and parenthood as a crucial responsibility and does not agree with using abortion as a form of birth control. He said he would do everything he could to encourage me to complete the pregnancy and deliver the baby. When I asked how we could ever afford to take care of a baby, and co-parent a child (we have not been together very long) he said I didn’t have to be involved in the child’s life if I didn’t want to but he would be responsible for his mistake and take care of the child to the best of his abilities.

I suggested the idea of adoption as a solution to my hypothetical pregnancy. He said he would not be okay with adoption and would be responsible for the child he created, even if it’s not the ideal time in his life for parenthood.

I told him that while I would talk to him about it and consider his perspective, the choice to complete or terminate a pregnancy was mine, because the child would be inside of my body. I told him that there is no way I could complete a pregnancy and deliver a child and then say “see ya never” and leave him to parent alone so that’s why I would prefer abortion at this time in my life. He said if I got an abortion, he would never speak to me again. I was shocked … I’ve never had this response before and didn’t know what to say.

For a few weeks, I thought about this conversation and wasn’t sure what I’d do if we did have sex and I got pregnant (maybe this is still why we haven’t had sex). But all of this thinking brought me to thinking about the rigidity of gender roles. I have been noticing limitations for gender expression and roles for women but have not considered how rigid and difficult expectations of gender expression are for men. But men feel pressure too—to be a gentlemanly but unemotional, aggressive, logical, responsible provider and sexual being.

Masculinity is defined extremely rigidly in much of the global community. I believe young men have been taught that they are decision-makers that have power and should make all decisions, even if it is outside of their rights or they do not have the knowledge to do so.  We hear so much in the media about men who are dead-beat dads and men who don’t pay child support, and how bad and devastating single-mother-led-families can be on children. This becomes ingrained in our thoughts and behaviours. And this is where I think my partner was during our discussion about abortion. Most men are simultaneously taught that they are biologically determined to be sexual and unemotional, safe sex isn’t important, and that they should avoid being dead-beat dads, which is completely illogical given how each of these demands overlap. They are supposed to want sex often, whether it is inside of a committed relationship or not, that they should be hard-working, unemotional, dominant in relationships, and that they should at the same time, be responsible fathers if pregnancy becomes a reality. Men receive mixed, confusing, contradictory messages about masculinity similar to those that women receive about femininity, and neither can seem to win.

If men support abortion, they will be perceived as supporting murder and ignoring their “responsibilities.” If they support adoption, they are taking the easy way out and will be called pussies and powerless. If they support a pregnancy and are a responsible father, they are expected to be: (1) a good provider and hard-worker, yet also spend enough time with children to make sure they don’t have the “devastating” impacts of a single-parent-led-family, (2) unemotional but supportive, and (3) dominant leader of the household without controlling every single decision of their children. Expectations for men and definitions of masculinity, especially in terms of parenting and having children, are impossible to fulfill which is why perhaps so many men identify as pro-choice but then if a pregnancy became a reality in their relationships, they struggle to find a solution supported by society and other men and a situation in which they feel comfortable supporting while still feeling “masculine enough.”

Some of the hesitation around having sex might have been because we were not together long or perhaps because we weren’t “officially together”, just seeing each other. However, some of it might rely on the fact that we would had some conflict in approaching an unplanned pregnancy. In fact, if we did have sex and I did happen to get pregnant, given his response, I don’t know if I would even tell my partner about my decision to have an abortion.

And I know that’s not necessarily fair and not a situation I would like to be involved in, so I’m struggling a little bit. It might just be the way things have gone, but our decision not to have sex is mutual, and I think our conflict about abortion is a contributing factor. Which is hard. We have an intense physical chemistry and I would like to have those intimate moments together. Maybe this is something that will change over time or as we grow more comfortable with each other we would be able to have a different discussion. 

Ultimately, this partner and I stopped seeing each other but remain close. 

***
Jessica Prominski is currently a Master of Arts student in Equity Studies and plans to begin her Masters in Social Work in the next two years. She is a case manager at a women's shelter in Hamilton and does diversity education for Hamilton Health Sciences. Jessica is also a Board of Directors member for a shelter in Mississauga, Media Coordinator for Slutwalk Hamilton and is doing policy work on violence against women through Rainbow Health Ontario.

***

Cross-posted at The Good Men Project


Friday, November 30, 2012

All of My Eggs in One Basket


A guest post by Tricia Morris.


Recently I went to a talk at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) about reproductive justice. A couple of humans from the law school spoke, along with a clinic escort, and a few other notable feministing folks from around Fredericton. In many ways, the talk was amazing. It is always inspiring to be around so many people who respect people’s bodies and the choices they make about them. I learned some interesting things about laws that regulate abortion here in New Brunswick, and I chatted with a few people who I want to be my new friends. Great.

There were parts of the event, though, that left me feeling so frustrated. A lot of the discussion seemed to center around autonomy, and the idea that if “it’s my body, it’s my choice.” I know it’s a bit unusual to find this frustrating. All of the humans who sat behind me offered appreciative “mmmmmmmhm” noises after someone spoke about autonomy and choice. As a “pro-choice” human I’m supposed to talk about how it’s my body and thus my choice, but I just don’t want that to be my only option anymore. Bear with me! Here’s my thinking:

During a presentation, one of the presenters spoke about how sophisticated the Right is getting in their recent discussions of abortion. The Right is, time and time again, coming up with arguments and laws that significantly threaten people’s ability to make reproductive choices in New Brunswick. And people who were on the fence about abortion are being convinced by these laws and arguments. The Right is using pro-women and pro-family rhetoric to denounce abortion, and they’re being sneaky about it (see, for example, this gem). They’re co-opting activists’ language, and they’re using pro-lady lingo to advance super gross right-wing agendas. The Right is gaining even more ground, and the world is getting even scarier here on the East Coast of Canada. . . It was, needless to say, a great presentation. At the end of their presentation, the presenter offered a thought that stuck with me: those of us who support abortion need to step it up. The Right is getting even more sophisticated with their arguments, and as pro-choice folks we need to follow suit.

I could not agree more. I need more than the arguments I’ve got right now. So many of the arguments I hear in support of a human’s right to choose abortion end up like this: “It’s my body. I’ll do what I want with it!” Yes. Sure. But in many ways this argument also frustrates the hell out of me. I know that is not a popular thing to put out there—that you’re frustrated by current arguments about autonomy. But I am. I have a problem with them, in part, because I think they get heard in much the same ways as a child’s answer to an argument is heard (e.g. “It’s my truck! I don’t have to share it!”). The arguments aren’t working for me very well any more. People already know how to tell me how wrong I am—why sharing is good, and how I should be using my truck, and where the truck comes from. It’s not that I don’t think autonomy is an important thing to talk about. I definitely do. It’s just not enough for me anymore to say that autonomy is synonymous with the tagline “my body, my choice.” If the only defense I have against people who want me to carry a fetus to term against my will is that it’s my choice, then I am so afraid that I’m going to lose the argument. The Right is getting more sophisticated, and I’ve got so much to lose and the only argument I’ve got at my disposal is an argument that the Right already knows how to dispute. That is so scary.

The Right already knows how to dispute the argument, in part, because they played such a big role in creating it. Individual choice is the cornerstone of a neoliberal/capitalist market—the individual makes rational choices and takes personal responsibility for their actions. If abortion is positioned as a rational choice that humans make about their bodies, the Right has a ready-made opposition. We live in a world where we consistently call some humans (notably cis women, but other humans too) “overly emotional,” “crazy,” “untrustworhy,” “irrational,” and a whole host of other things that invalidate our abilities to make rational choices. Only straight, white males make rational choices. So when the only argument I have for abortion is that it is “my body, my choice” we have a problem: the Right already knows how to tells us that overly emotional and irrational people can’t make reasonable choices.

Here’s the other part: I don’t even think I believe the arguments about autonomy anymore. I know I’m supposed to say “It’s my body!” . . . but I don’t even believe myself as I’m saying it anymore. Maybe it’s because every single day I get cues that tell me that my body isn’t mine, and I’ve internalized it in such a bad way that I don’t believe in bodily autonomy anymore. Maybe my body belongs, just a little bit, to the guy who grabbed my butt this morning or to the woman who judged me with her eyes when I ordered a cheeseburger or the human from 40 Days for “Life” who told me not to be an abortion. And that’s about patriarchy, and I want to fight it all with arguments about autonomy. I do! But when I think about autonomy as being equal to individual choice, it just isn’t a productive conceptualization of autonomy for me. What does it mean when we argue for autonomy? What does that look like? I don't think these are questions we talk about enough.

In so many ways, I rely on others. I rely on community, and family, and a whole host of other human bodies in order to “be myself.” Arguments that I should control my body ignore that, in so many ways, this body isn’t out there on its own making choices. It is constituted through my interactions with other bodies. It relies on other bodies. “Being me” requires so many other people to make that possible. I understand that there is a certain level of danger in positioning abortion as a ‘community’ issue, or as an issue that is not about individual women’s bodies. I understand that there are risks to talking about bodies without recourse to the autonomy argument. But this argument is, itself, so fucking dangerous. Not only is it an argument the Right knows how to combat, but it is also one that isolates me and individualizes the problem of my unwanted fetus. In community, together, can’t we think of new ways of talking about abortion that don’t leave me isolated and making an individual choice in a scary world that calls me irrational? I just can’t put all of my eggs in that one basket.

***

Tricia Morris is a feminist and fiction lover who lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She is starting a nursing program at the University of New Brunswick in January, which she hopes will lead to more amazing conversations about abortion, friendships with seniors, and subversive knowledge about the healthcare system that will help humans get what they need.
Heh? Heh.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Write for Me! A Letter to My Readers

Dear Readers,

As you may have noticed, the posting here at Anti-Choice is Anti-Awesome has been spotty over the last year or so. At first I convinced myself that it was on temporary hold while I planned my wedding, but the wedding is over and I find myself with a conundrum: I don’t have the time or the energy to produce a reasonable amount of new content for the blog.

In its heyday, ACiAA had a pretty reasonable audience, and it did pretty well for a blog largely about abortion access in the Maritimes. I don’t want to get rid of it, mainly because I think there are things that still need to be said and it would be a shame to waste this platform. It has become increasingly clear to me that I am just not the one to say those things.

So, I’m opening the blog up to contributors. I would love to hear from anyone, but am particularly looking for young people, particularly in the Maritimes, and especially activists and clinic escorts. ACiAA has mostly dealt with abortion and related issues but I’m open to posting on any number of related topics, including (but not limited to): pregnancy, birth control, adoption, childfree/parenting, sex, sexuality, gender, reproductive justice, access to sexual/reproductive health services, challenges of activism, etc. The most important thing is that we're not just re-hashing American abortion news - this is a Canadian content blog.

If you would like to contribute to the blog, please contact me. It can be as frequently or infrequently as you like (one-time guest spots welcome!). Ideally I would like to be putting up weekly content, but I’ll see what kind of interests this gets. Please feel free to spread the word - the more interested people, the better!

Email me at pedgehog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Your humble blogger,
Peggy (the Pedgehog)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Film Debut!


Hey, so remember that documentary I was talking about - the one I'm in? Well, they have announced the Canadian premiere, which will take place at the Whistler Film Festival in BC on November 29th, 2012 (next Thursday!).

If you're in the area I highly recommend checking it out. The film is called Status Quo? - the unfinished business of Feminism in Canada and it's a really innovative and very nitty-gritty look at contemporary feminism, including topics like missing and murdered Aboriginal women and immigrant childcare workers that are often left out of mainstream and second wave-centric evaluations of "where we are now" in the movement. You guys, it made my heart burst out of my chest. There are some really amazing and inspiring people in the film that you will want to listen to all day and then maybe hug.

If you're not in Whistler, please look out for the film in your area (it will most likely be played widely as part of International Women's Day in March). I will keep you abreast of details, of course, particularly any screenings in Toronto or the Maritimes. It's not only a great film, but a perfect way to support young female filmmakers and feminist women of colour.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Share Your Abortion Story


Via Arts4Choice


ARTS4CHOICE IS PUBLISHING A BOOK!


We are excited to announce that the stories and portraits of arts4choice
will be published in book form!

This latest incarnation of arts4choice will be released Spring 2014 by Three O’Clock Press

Now is the time to have the focus of the abortion debate shifted to women and their experiences.

Help us ensure legal, safe and accessible abortion for all women in Canada! 
Please be part of our project. Share your abortion story.

Fill out our questionnaire online. Send us your story via email.
Join our Facebook and Twitter communities online.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Back to Work!


I'm back! My wedding and honeymoon are over, and so is my self-imposed hiatus from blogging/activism/doing anything. It is taking me a little while to get back on track, mostly because there is a lot of stuff in my life - work and social - to catch up on and the last few weeks have been a little overwhelming.

So what did I miss? Ha ha, just kidding. Hopefully y'all took part in your local action for October 20th, and we can have a discussion in the upcoming posts about what it means to work towards reproductive justice as opposed to "pro-choice" causes. Intersectionality, friends! I'm going to talk about it!

I also want to mention that a few days before I went back to NB for the wedding, I attended a private screening here in Toronto of Karen Cho's new documentary, "Status Quo?: The Unfinished Business of Feminism in Canada" which I am very excited about (and not just because I'm in it!). It should be hitting the festival circuit soon and then hopefully wider release, so keep an eye out for it, and you can look forward to me talking about it a lot in the near future.

I'm excited to get back to writing! Let's do this!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Adventures in DIY Gynaecology


Hey remember that time I got an IUD? What a nightmare, right? Well, I have to say, I don't regret my choice because for the last year and a half, the IUD has been wonderful. Super reliable, unobtrusive, way better than any other birth control I've used.

Until last week. Well, two weeks ago. My period came when expected, but lasted eleven days(!!!) and never got beyond very, very light spotting. It was weird. Afterwards I felt for the strings of my IUD, as I do after each period, and found them to be longer than usual. Possibly. It's hard to tell, you know? So I called the Bay Centre to see what they thought I should do, and they suggested I come in for a check up.

The check up was quick and painless, but revealed that the strings were four centimetres longer than they were at insertion. Not great. The doctor told me to make an appointment for an ultrasound to see where the IUD was sitting, and told me they would probably have to remove it. Bummer.

This was all on Saturday. I made my appointment for an ultrasound (they couldn't get me in until next Friday, the 10th) but all through Sunday I kept feeling the strings poking at me. I thought it was all in my head, but when I felt for them they were SUPER long, although I could not feel the device itself poking through. It will just fall out on its own, I thought.

It didn't. By Monday morning it was annoying me so much, I started to ask around about taking it out myself. I know this is NOT RECOMMENDED by doctors, but I found a lot of stories on the internet of women doing it and it seemed like not such a big deal. I am lucky to know a lot of doctors. Two of them told me, on the down low, that tugging it out myself was ok.

Here's how I did it (EXTREME TMI WARNING): I sat on the edge of my bed so my cervix would be low (I've read some people do it standing, in the shower, or with one leg up on the toilet, and some do it lying down. I fiddled around with a lot of options but this was the only one where I could get a grip on it). The strings were super slippery - I actually had (sterile) tweezers ready but couldn't find a way to grab the string with them without pinching myself in the twat. Eventually I managed to get my get my fingers far enough up to get a firm grip on the string, and then I just pulled, gently but consistently, until the whole damn thing came out into my hand. It took ten seconds, tops. And it didn't hurt - I didn't even feel it, really.

I had tiny cramps afterwards, and some spotting, but the next day it was all normal again.

The little bastard. Who wants to make jewellery out of it? Etsy?

I am trying to decide what to do next. I do want a new one put in, but I might wait until after my impending wedding because I don't want to be stressed about it falling out again until I have room in my life for that worry. And I am NOT looking forward to the ordeal of the insertion. I'll tell you one thing, if this one falls out, I am DONE with IUDs.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Hiatus


Hi everyone! I know my posting has been light-to-nonexistent lately. The truth is it has been pretty slow for abortion-related news in Canada in the last few weeks; I can't even cobble together enough material for the weekly reader.

Because of the lull in news (not always a bad thing!), my burnout with abortion (which happens from time to time since I write here and at Abortion Gang), what I'm sure is going to be a busy and eventful autumn, and the fact that I am planning a wedding (oh yeah, that old thing) - I am taking a hiatus from Anti-Choice is Anti-Awesome.

I will be posting lightly from time to time but it will be sporadic, and I will return in full force once the wedding is over, in October. Until then, look out for my stuff on Abortion Gang, and if you're into books I also post a review every fortnight at Smoke City Stories. You can reach me by email at pedgehog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Stay safe!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weekly Reader


This week it's all abortion caravan, all the time!

The "new abortion caravan" went to Winnipeg, they went to Sault Ste. Marie, they didn't go to Windsor but Windsor still protested them, and they went to London.

Special thanks to CAW for their strong pro-choice presence and for organizing a lot of these demos!

And for your entertainment, here is a sweet pic a friend of mine took in Milwaukee last week:


Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekly Reader


Here's what I've been reading about this week:

The "new abortion caravan" hit Regina this week, and then Winnipeg, causing a lot of criticism and disgust as per usual - some general thoughts and my take on it.

Disappointingly, the SOGC seems to have lost the plot, calling for a ban on "entertainment" ultrasounds.

Sex-selective abortion is a particular concern in Manitoba.

The Crown ends a bid to keep Linda Gibbons jailed.

What have you been reading about?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Steeling Ourselves for the "New Abortion Caravan"


So, as you may know, there is a group of people currently travelling across the country as part of what they call "the new abortion caravan", which is nothing more than a glorified GAP van trying to co-opt the history of grassroots feminist struggles.

If you are looking to protest/counter-rally against the caravan's presence in your town, the CAW has put together a very helpful list of organized counter-protests and contact information so you can get in touch and lend your support. The list is here and it covers Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Brampton, London, Toronto, and Ottawa (if you have links to the event pages of any of these protests, send 'em my way!).

ARCC has put together some helpful tips (check them out!) on how to respond and what to include in your counter-protests. The grassroots responses to the caravan so far have focused on creativity and engaging/informing passersby about safe access to abortion, Motion 312, and healthy sexuality as a counterpoint to the gory and shaming images coming from the caravan.

Please join in the counter-protest in your city if you are able; let's not let these judgmental assholes roll unquestioned through town. I will be at the counter-protest in Toronto on June 28; I hope to see some of you there!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Weekly Reader


Here's what I've been reading about this week:

More discussion on Mark Donnelly singing the anthem at an anti-choice rally.

The "New Abortion Caravan" is making its way across the country, gory fetus pics and all - to the horror of original Abortion Caravan activist Margo Dunn. Stephanie Grey is ridiculous as usual. More to come!

Linda Gibbons failed to make a compelling case as to why she should be allowed to harass women trying to access abortions in Toronto, and lost her appeal to the Supreme Court - which got a surprising amount of coverage. Maybe she will go to jail!

Oh and debate on Motion 312 has been deferred to September 18. Word on the street is that Harper is coming down pretty hard on the Tories to vote against it.

What have you been reading about?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Weekly Reader


Alright, here it is, all the things I've been reading since the last time I put one of these up. It's a lot of things!

First, some coverage of the March for Life from Canada.com, Metro, Xtra, and the New Brunswick one was on CBC!

Some further thoughts on Motion 312 from Joyce Arthur, Not Guilty (at Abortion Gang), and this MP who submitted pro-choice and anti-choice petitions. Also here's these cool folks. The vote is coming up!

Also don't worry, a lot of men still think you ladies should keep your legs closed! Maurice Vellacott believes it is possible to bully a fetus; Mike Murphy (who has been on my douchebag radar for a long time) would have a free vote on abortion; and Mark Donnelly sang the national anthem at an anti-abortion rally.

And in general:

Counter-protesting the "new abortion caravan".

The social conservative stronghold in Alberta may be weakening.

Canada's teen birth and abortion rate drops.

Why sex-selective abortion is not a "gotcha!" for feminists.

What have you all been reading?




Friday, June 1, 2012

Ain't no Sunshine


Apologies for my absence! I have been out of town the last three weekends because I am very rich and popular. I have also had a lot of stressful situations in my life that I'm sure I will blog to you all AT LENGTH, so prepare yourselves! I will also have a jumbo weekly reader this weekend. OMG.

Right now I just want to tell you about something that happened a couple weeks ago. I got an email from someone at the Sun "News" Network asking me to come on Michael Coren's show, The Arena, for a ten minute debate with him about whether there is a War on Women in Canada, and whether the abortion debate should be re-opened.

At first I thought I might take them up on it, because a. I like being on TV, and b. I could knock this out of the park. I watched some YouTube clips of Coren's show (I had never heard of him before and I was delighted to find out we don't even get Sun on our TV) and found him to be like some kind of right-wing Keith Olbermann - insufferably smug, contemptuous of his guests, and so far up himself he can probably see out his belly button. I can only imagine he is able to get people to pay attention to him because of his British accent.

Still, if the show was on any other network I might have considered it. I talked it over with a couple people though, and came to the conclusion that Sun just doesn't have a reachable audience. I would be on that show to be ridiculed and shouted down; even though I can handle it, there's not much point to go spout talking points to an audience who will never be convinced. No one watches the Colbert Report to make up their mind about something; we want to see stupid people be ridiculed. I'll happily be ridiculed if I think there's some hope of reaching people, but I've seen Sun TV. Smart people aren't watching that shit.

So I turned it down. And now I'm wondering if someone else took them up on the offer, and how they did. It was supposed to air last night, but as I said, I don't get Sun TV anymore so I couldn't watch it. I've been looking for it on the internet in vain. Anyway let me know if you come across it, because I'd love to see how they approached it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekly Reader


I didn't post a reader last week so there's a lot to catch up on. Let's jump right in!

Here's the low down on Motion 312:

Joyce Arthur on the science and art of defeating M312

The three stooges of the patriarchy

CUPE's statement against M312

Marlo Campbell's body is not up for debate

Great background and coverage of the debate by Andrea Gunn

...And further coverage and opinion from RH Reality Check, Macleans, and Feminists for Choice

And post-M312 news includes:

A lot of buzz in the media about the "youthful rebranding" of the Canadian anti-abortion movement

A history of the legal battles of Dr. Morgentaler

And of course Thursday was March for Life day, so here's some coverage from:

The National Post (of course)
The CBC (who also covered the PEI March for Life)
The Globe and Mail

....a perfect opportunity to vent their frustrations at Woodworth's being crushed in the debate.

And a great opinion piece in the Chronicle Herald about being grateful for abortion access.

Feel free to share what you've been reading in comments.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Brief Update


I have been so remiss in my blogging! If you would like to read some things I've been writing, you can check out my latest book review at Smoke City Stories, this piece I wrote on Motion 312, and a little something I wrote about 30 Rock that was originally posted at Abortion Gang and has just been cross-posted at Bitch Flicks.

I'm sorry I don't have the time to spend here at ACiAA right now; May is turning into a very busy month for me! I am out of town for the next three weekends, and as you may or may not know, I am in the midst of planning my wedding which can sometimes be something of a garbage nightmare. Anyway, excuses, excuses. I promise there will be a huge round-up on Sunday of the stuff I am unable to write about in depth, and I will be back on here as soon as I am able.

Also if you like shark movies you should follow me on Pinterest.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekly Reader


Lots of Motion 312 news this week, obviously! It would be difficult to summarize all the articles, so I'm just going to tell you where they're from:

First some information on M-312 from ARCC and Abortion Monologues, and a statement of solidarity from the Canadian Labour Congress.

Pre-debate coverage of the Motion and the Radical Handmaids protest from:

The Globe and Mail
The CBC
The Edmonton Journal
The Ottawa Sun
The Ottawa Citizen
The London Free Press
The Toronto Star
The Province
The National Post
The Winnipeg Free Press

A Mississauga Catholic school teacher brought a pro-M312 petition to school for the kids to sign.

Coverage of the debate from CBC, the Toronto Star and Sun, The Spec, Metro, Winnipeg Free Press, the Montreal Gazette, Macleans, Northumberland View, and the Star Phoenix.

Blog reactions from meJane Cawthorne, and rabble.

Feel free to share more coverage and opinion in comments.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Truer Words, etc.


"Whether one accepts it or not, abortion is and always will be part of society. There will always be dire situations in which some women may have to choose the option of abortion. No matter how many laws some people may want government to institute against abortion, abortion cannot be eliminated. It is part of the human condition." - Gordon O'Connor, Chief Government Whip, Conservative Party of Canada.


Read my thoughts on M-312 here.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Handmaids on the Hill



Have I mentioned how much I effing love the Radical Handmaids? Here is their press release. "OfStephen"! So good. (Via. French version here.)


*Handmaids on the Hill protest Conservatives’ Anti-Abortion Bill.*


OTTAWA - On the eve of the introduction of Conservative MP backbencher Stephen Woodworth’s anti-abortion private member’s bill, a determined group of women calling themselves the Radical Handmaids are getting together on Parliament Hill for a little “causeplay” in support of reproductive rights.


Sporting red garments and “Flying Nun” hats in an allusion to Margaret Atwood’s classic novel *The Handmaid’s Tale*, the Handmaids are protesting Bill M-312 as a regressive attack on women.


“*The Handmaid’s Tale* shouldn’t be an instruction manual,” said one young woman, who identified herself only as “OfStephen” (“Woodworth or Harper, take your pick”).


In Atwood’s novel, set in a futuristic America transformed by religious fundamentalists into the Republic of Gilead, women are judged by whether or not they are capable of bearing children and, if fertile, are enslaved to men of the ruling elite who forcibly impregnate them.


“We’re watching what’s going on in the United States with the war on women and we know the Conservatives are trying to sneak it up here,” said another OfStephen, standing in front of a display of brightly-coloured knitted uteruses.


Supporters across the country have been sending the Handmaids knitted wombs and vulvas, using patterns available on the Internet. When they have enough, the Handmaids say they will deliver the woolly parts to any MPs who vote in favour of Woodworth’s bill.


“If they want to control our uteruses so badly, they can have a womb of their own,” said OfStephen.


If it passes in the House of Commons, M-312 would create a Parliamentary Committee to revisit the question of fetal personhood. The Radical Handmaids point to the futility of reopening the abortion debate, arguing that Parliamentary resources could be better used to restore the national childcare program the Conservatives killed on their election in 2006.


“Affordable daycare for working parents isn’t on the agenda,” OfStephen said. “Apparently you have to be a fetus to matter to a Conservative.”



*For more information, please contact OfStephen (Julie Lalonde) at 613-301-2697 or OfStephen (Aalya Ahmad) at 613-327-1177.*

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Weekly Reader


So sorry to be late with this, friends! Here's what I've been reading about this week:

The whole sex-selective abortion issue is rearing its ugly head once again. Of course, don't show them the ultrasound! That should solve it.

Here's a summary of coverage, and here's a good piece on the real problem.

Calgarians respond to the re-opening of the abortion debate

Woodworth and Motion 312! Get yer wombs for Woodworth, read (and submit to) Voices Against M312, and check out events in Ottawa (with transportation from Montreal), Victoria, Toronto, and take action!

What have you been reading?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Meet the Handmaids!


I wonder if Margaret Atwood ever gets tired of being right. No really you guys, do you remember the first time you read The Handmaid's Tale (I do, but it was recently)? Remember how it sent a chill down your spine? For me, Oryx and Crake was even worse for this, with the genetic engineering and the internet porn/death scenes. TOO REAL MARGARET.

Anyway, I just want to tell you about some really awesome folks who have started a group called the Radical Handmaids, after the handmaids in Atwood's most famous book. They even have fabulous costumes! They formed in preparation for the April 26 debate on women's rights fetal rights in Parliament, as part of Motion 312 put forth by Stephen Woodworth, MP and all-around douchecanoe.

Please check out the Handmaids on Facebook and Twitter, and also ARCC's action alert on Motion 312, which includes instructions on how to make your own handmaid outfit!

I love the fun and humour these folks have injected into the debate; I also think they strike exactly the right tone. If you think we're so far from living in Gilead, I feel like you need to re-read the book, and then maybe read the news - especially in the States. And then start sewing yourself a hat.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekly Reader


Hey friends, sorry there was no post this week; I spent my weekend nursing a very sick fellow. :(

Here is what I've been reading:

This Wildrose scandal won't go away! Here's the various news outlets reporting on Smith insisting that she is pro-choice, and here's Jane's take and Warren Kinsella (I know, I know).

For your edification, a fact sheet on Motion 312.

My latest at Abortion Gang, being a humourless feminist as usual.

And that's it! Feel free to share more links in comments.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thank You!


Thanks so much to everyone who donated to my month-long campaign to raise money for the PEI Reproductive Rights Organization, and to those who spread the word. We didn't make it to the $1000 goal, but we did raise $655 which, believe me, will go a long way towards helping folks from the Island to access abortion and reproductive health care. Many women have appointments at the clinic in Fredericton, or the hospital in Halifax, and just need gas money or bridge toll fare, and your kindness and generosity means there will be a couple fewer things they have to worry about that day.

Of course PEI is still struggling, and the amazing grassroots activists there can use your help - and can stretch every donation to its fullest potential. Please consider giving them a little help if you are able. Check out the PRRO website or contact me if you are interested in helping out - pedgehog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Weekly Reader


Hey folks, here's what's been happening this week:

Abortion and reproductive rights podcast at rabble.ca

Lots of great, angry and articulate reactions to M-312 (Woodworth's proposed abortion debate), and all your questions answered - and Joyce Arthur debates the man himself!

5 signs you're arguing with an incognito anti-choicer

There was a big abortion protest in St. John's

And in case you missed the big Wildrose scandal this week, it starts here and here, and then coverage spreads pretty much everywhere

Also, it's not too late to donate to the PEI abortion fund!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How to be a Fauxgressive


Step 1: Convince people you are progressive. Maybe get a blog, join some kind of "progressive bloggers" aggregator or blogroll.

Step 2: Write some progressive stuff on the blog. Or at least, you know, liberal stuff. Be vaguely anti-oppression, take potshots at conservatives. Draw people in.

Step 3: Avoid checking your own privilege.

Step 4: Characterize the rights of a minority group to which you do not belong as fodder for stimulating political discussion.

Step 5: Refuse to listen to members of said group when they tell you that their lives and freedoms are not up for debate.

Step 6: Characterize the whole argument as a "pissing match" and, in case there was any doubt that you are not genuinely progressive, start calling fetuses "unborn children".

Or, save yourself time and just be this guy.

For the full ridiculous story, DJ! has your back.

Friday, March 30, 2012

How to Deal with the Impending Woodworth Ridiculousness


Ok let's face it: it is about to get ridiculous up in here. Woodworth is going to introduce his motion, and our government is going to seriously debate it like it's some kind of valid suggestion about human rights, and not a thinly-veiled misogynistic attempt to read The Handmaid's Tale like a how-to guide to governance. We are going to have to sit through this bullshit. So here's what you do.

Grab an egg, a tablespoon of Nutella, a tablespoon of flour, half a teaspoon of baking powder, a teaspoon of cocoa, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Mix it all together in a bowl or a big mug. Stick it in the microwave for two minutes. Let it sit for five minutes. Eat it.

Now put your feet up and relax for a day or two. Because you need your strength - shit's about to get real.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekly Reader


Here's what I've been reading about this week:

Anti-choice protesters are harassing women in Montreal

All together now: we DON'T need a debate

Knit some uteruses tomorrow in Calgary and join the Womb Swarm

Let's keep talking about how there's no abortion services on PEI - and what we can do about it!

Abortion is still under attack in Canada

Counter arguments against Stephen Woodworth's motion, and Heather Mallick's take

This amazing woman's naked protest against the GAP at UBC is AWESOME!

What have you been reading?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Profound Simplicity of Trusting Women: A Response to Margaret Somerville


[Trigger warning for sexual assault]

You may have heard or read my feelings about Margaret Somerville, the well-known Canadian ethicist, before. I first encountered her views in the book of her Massey lecture, The Ethical Imagination. I have been frustrated by both her views and her unquestioned platform for them ever since.

Today Somerville has an op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen entitled "The profound complexities of informed consent to abortion". In it she details the experiences and feelings of a young woman, Anna (not her real name), who had an abortion that she didn't want and now feels guilty about. Somerville uses her story as an example of why pre-abortion counselling needs to be independent of abortion clinics, which she characterizes as a "for-profit undertaking" as if she is ignorant of how hard Dr. Morgentaler himself is fighting to have this service covered under Medicare. It is quite clear that she is implying that abortion providers (including clinic staff and counsellors) are in it for the money, or have some kind of quota. If Somerville spent one day in an abortion clinic or hospital providing abortion in Canada, particularly in the Maritimes, she would know that there is no need to convince women to have abortions - providers are, in fact, struggling to keep up with the demand.

But there is no need for me to further rebut an argument that wasn't explicitly made, when there is so much crap just right out in the open. I would expect an ethicist to be skilled in logic to some extent, but there seems to have been no effort on Somerville's part to come to the logical conclusion that one woman's bad experience with abortion does not and will not ever justify taking the option away from everyone.

Sometimes Somerville comes close to the right answers - she believes that Anna was not able to access the support she needed to continue the pregnancy and have a baby, which is a big reason why many women choose to terminate their pregnancies. Instead of identifying the support needed as non-judgemental counselling, affordable pre-natal care, free and accessible daycare and childcare, parental leave, etc., Somerville can only suggest "[...] easy access to free counselling independent of abortion facilities." Uh-huh. Leaving aside the concern that this will just leave more room to coerce and frighten women out of having abortions, just who is going to pay for this service? The same government that is so eager to cover abortions and all the support for pregnant women mentioned earlier? I bet.

The rest of the article involves consent - Anna did not feel she was listened to at the clinic, she asked to see her ultrasound and was denied, and gave her consent to the procedure while crying, and only because she felt that she had been worn down to the point that resisting would be futile. It sounds like Anna was treated very poorly by clinic staff, and that makes me more angry than I know how to express, and it makes my heart hurt for her. It is never easy nor fun to undergo surgery, and the added terror of a lack of full consent is unimaginably scary. Women deserve better.

To shift what happened to Anna on to the issue of abortion, however, is like being sexually assaulted by a doctor performing a breast exam on you and then trying to use that as a reason to oppose breast exams. The abortion wasn't the problem here. The same thing could have happened to Anna were she having any elective surgery - the problem is the way she was treated. I do agree with Somerville that informed consent to medical procedures is something that needs work in this country, but I can say with certainty that it will continue to be an issue regardless of the legal status of abortion services.

Doctors and nurses need more time to spend with patients. Counsellors need more time to spend with patients. Sometimes it can be a struggle to get through everything you need to get to in fifteen minutes with a patient (most abortion clinic counsellors don't even get that long), especially if you have to spend half of that time dealing with their trauma from the sidewalk harassment they experienced coming in. Clinic managers need more money and time to hire and train competent staffers, and to pay them sufficiently. The whole damn medical system needs to be overhauled, in my opinion, but until then we need to be spending more government money on making things better for patients than we are on denying them the services they need through laws and regulations.

What happened to Anna has nothing to do with the legality of abortion - in fact, if abortion was not legal I'm pretty sure things would have been a lot worse for her. What happened to Anna happened because we live in a country where those in charge do not trust or care about women, and the people who are supposed to help women are too overworked and underpaid to do so sufficiently.

I hope that Anna is able to find some peace with her decision, and some counselling for her trauma. And I hope Margaret Somerville some day gets her shit together and learns what an ethicist does.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekly Reader


Hey everyone, sorry for not writing a post this week - my mother was visiting, and then I went to Niagara Falls for the weekend! But don't forget to donate to the campaign to support PRRO and help bring abortion access to PEI!

Here's some stuff I've been reading this week...

Woodworth will be getting his abortion debate in April

Check out the hashtag

Let's not re-open the abortion debate

Maybe you might want to send your used menstrual products to Stephen Woodworth?

An anti-choice group hosts an abortion debate at UBC

What have you been reading about?


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Weekly Reader


Hi everyone, here's what I've been reading about this week:

Contraception, abortion and Limbaugh: a Canadian weighs in

Coming out for reproductive justice

The Active-8 campaign ended in a tie; a really classy move on ACIC's part

Don't forget to check out our campaign to match the $1000 prize

What have you been reading?






Friday, March 9, 2012

Let's Match It!


Hey so, perhaps you are wondering what that little widget was in my previous post. Well folks, as you may have heard, the ACIC did the classy thing and, because the votes were so close, they awarded first place of the Active-8 campaign to Tara and Kandace!

So, I know I said that I would raise the $1000 for PRRO if Kandace did not win the competition, because it was unfairly sabotaged by anti-choice meanies. However, even though she did win, I did get a lot of support and enthusiasm for the idea so I thought, well why not? And now we are going to match Kandace's $1000 prize, and raise $1000 for the PEI Reproductive Rights Organization to continue their fight to bring abortion access to the Island.

If every person who pledge their support of Kandace throws in $1, we will easily reach our goal. And for those of you who missed your chance to support her with a pledge, here's your opportunity!

Please donate what you can, and spread the word through your networks. Let's let PEI know that we are paying attention, and that choice means access.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekly Reader


Hey everyone! Here's what I've been reading about this week:

More on sex-selective abortion in Canada

Woodworth is still a douchebag

Being child-free is not morally wrong! Did you know?

A pro-choice call to action

Two overviews of abortion in Canada

Graphic anti-abortion postcards are being sent out in Calgary

What have you been reading?


Friday, March 2, 2012

We Was Robbed!


Hey so remember how I wrote a couple times about Kandace Hagen and the Active-8 campaign? (Of course you do, you read and memorize all the shit that I write). Well the contest closed on Wednesday and it looks like a last minute post on LifeSite (no I am not linking to that bullshit) pulled it through for Tara - or should I say against Kandace, because none of these assholes give a shit about Tara's cause (which is about intellectual disabilities and is pretty inspiring stuff, just FYI) and were only trying to shut down a young woman's push for better access to HEALTHCARE (abortion is healthcare, you guys!) on PEI. Fuck.

Anyway, the results have not officially been announced yet. It looks like Tara won though, so congratulations, and I'm sorry that your awesome and well-deserved victory had to be tarnished by a bunch of childish spoilsports who used you as a pawn to achieve the questionable political goal of making sure a young activist didn't get $1000. Fuck them, both you (Tara) and Kandace are awesome.

I want to say that I was not bullshitting when I said that if Kandace doesn't win, I will personally raise $1000 to donate to her activist work/the PRRO. As soon as ACIC announces the official winner, I will be in contact with Kandace, and set up a way for you all to make a donation. And there will probably also be some creative way to convince other cool folks to contribute, so put your thinking caps on, because I'm going to need your help (I am not super creative). 

Anyway watch this space, because we are going to get Kandace $1000 and then maybe blow raspberries at PEI Right to Life because some of us (ie me) are not super mature. Hooray!