Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Free Speech My Ass

So there was more in the Daily Gleaner today about the bubble zone legislation. The Gleaner decided to let Peter Ryan, head of the local Right to Life group, tell everyone what he thinks about it. Apparently the law would hamper his right to "freedom of speech". What about the women's right to access medical treatment without being verbally abused and harassed? I wish the Gleaner would make more of an attempt to get both sides of this. There was a brief statement from J, but that was all. Plus, I have written two letters to the editor on the subject and neither has been published. I wrote another one today. We'll see what happens.

It's not that I have any illusions as to the Gleaner (all the provincial media, for that matter) and on which side their bread is buttered. I would just love it if they would print every intelligent, articulate pro-choice letter that comes their way. I have a feeling we would be seeing a lot more letters.

Also, Peter Ryan commented on the incident earlier this year, when the police were called to the clinic (this is before I was a volunteer there). He said that all that happened was one of the protesters went to retrieve his hat, which had blown on to the clinic's property. Ha. Actually, the escorts told the guy that they would get his hat (as the protesters aren't allowed on the property), and in response the guy shoved one of the escorts. But of course no one from the Gleaner bothered to get our side of the story.

I am really hoping this bubble zone law doesn't get squashed by the very influential powers who are opposed to it. Even though there are a lot of pro-choice people who are motivated and driven in this province, as evidenced at the Heather Mallick talk, I fear that influence and money will win out, as it always does in New Brunswick.

Speaking of Heather Mallick, she did a great column this week on abortion rights in NB - check it out here.

No clinic this week. I hope the anti-choicers didn't know, and went down at 7am to protest anyway. Mwahahaha. I am reading "Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero" by Catherine Dunphy and I highly recommend it. Morgentaler's next court date here is May 16th. He probably won't come in person but I intend to go anyway, as do a lot of clinic staff and volunteers, to show our support. I am excited for this trial to finally get underway.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hail and Bubbles, Part Two

Ok so I have some good news that I wanted to mention - it's sort of more personal than anything but I'm really happy about so I wanted to bring it up here. When I first got to the clinic yesterday J, the receptionist, asked me to come talk to her after my shift. So I did, and it turns out she is going to be away for three weeks and wants me to fill in for her! I am so excited! I'm just new at escorting but I guess because I took the initiative on the scheduling, they figured I would be trustworthy enough to do this as well. I'm mainly hoping that this sort of thing will lead to an actual job - even career - in the field. The thought of doing something for a living that I'm really passionate about is so exciting!

So yeah, just thought I'd share that.

The other thing I wanted to expand on from Part One of this post is the bubble-zone law. A bubble zone is basically an area around the clinic where the protesters aren't allowed to go. Right now they are not allowed on clinic property, but they cannot be legally stopped from standing on the sidewalk right outside and harrassing women coming in. In Vancouver the Elisabeth Bagshaw abortion clinic has a bubble zone with a 50 metre radius. There is also one outside the homes of the doctors who perform abortions there.

Recently in New Brunswick, following pressure from NAF and ARCC, T.J. Burke has expressed interest in finding a similar solution to the problem of the Morgentaler clinic protesters. There was a story in the Daily Gleaner a couple days ago saying that he is looking into trying to get a bubble zone law passed here in Fredericton - both for the Morgentaler clinic and for the doctor's house. This is very encouraging news for the clinic staff (especially the doctor, who is a wonderful person, and who has already been driven out of her practice) and for the women who come from all over the Maritimes to access abortion here in Fredericton.

If you are pro-choice, I encourage you to write to T.J. Burke and show your support for this initiative. It's definitely a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hail and Bubbles, Part One

Well I'm sorry I ever complained before about shitty weather for standing outside, because today was the worst. Cold, freezing rain, slush - that's what I just love to see (and stand in) at 7:30 in the morning. Of course I wore my sneakers instead of boots, because I am an idiot. Also the longest pair of pants I have, which were immediately soaked to the knee. At least on my way out the door, Mum reminded me to bring an umbrella.

We had a bit of an escort shortage today, which meant we had to split up so that one person was always standing on their own (usually in the front, since most of the escorting happens out back). It also meant that me and N had to stay a little later because the people on the second shift were delayed because of the weather. What a crappy day. A lot of the women coming in told me that it was nicer in Moncton, PEI, etc. - so at least their driving wasn't as bad as it could have been. Still, I had to walk a couple people back through the slush to their cars as they had parked in the school parking lot and would probably be ticketed - and they were pretty cranky about that. Hey, at least I shared my umbrella.

Just one incident worth remarking upon today. N and I were out back, and a patient (herein known as Patient) and her mother (herein known as PM) came outside to wait for a ride and have a smoke. The doctor had just arrived so I was surprised to see that they were out already. However, none of my business, so we just made small talk while we waited. The crazy protesters (ie the women) had just arrived though, and once they saw us out back with a young woman who had obviously been crying, one of the crazies (Rosary Lady) started saying, very loudly, "You don't have to do this," and such forth. Well, PM very snarkily replied "We're not." Rosary Lady then tried to get them to go next door to the "Mother Child Welcome Centre" but PM told her, in an unimpressed tone, that they had already been. That was when their ride showed up. Before they got in the car, PM turned to me and said, in an explanatory way (as if she owed me an explanation!) that Patient was too far along in her pregnancy and that's why they hadn't been able to get an abortion.

It was a strange experience. First of all it was the closest I've ever come to crying at this job, and secondly I think it's the maddest I've ever been at a protester. She should have stopped her bullshit when she heard that they weren't going through with it. She's not having the abortion - what more do you want? Do you have to try to brainwash her as well? Also I found it strange that the mother felt she had to tell me why they weren't having it. As if I was going to judge the patient for not going through with it! I guess when abortion is treated the way it is in this province, and having to walk through a bunch of crazy fundamentalists yelling at you on your way into the clinic, it's natural to think everyone is judging you - the protesters for "killing your baby", and the clinic staff for not having the guts to go through with it. It is so disgusting how we make women feel like bad people just for making one decision or the other in a difficult situation.

There were two camera crews at the clinic today - one doing a story on stem cell research (I have no idea why they were at the clinic for that, except to film the crazies, who are undoubtably against it), and the other doing a story on abortion and specifically the recent discussions on the bubble law. I am so excited that they are talking about that. (I will blog about it more in-depth later). Anyway check out the CBC news tonight for some footage of crazies being crazy. I like that they did this today because the crazies were all wearing matching yellow rainsuits.

This is a long post and I have a couple more things to discuss, so I will continue it later.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rally of Awesome

So I just have to say how inspiring it was to see so many people come to the Heather Mallick talk tonight. Sometimes it can be a bit depressing, living in New Brunswick and being intelligent. You get lonely. So it's very uplifting to see that there are others like me in this province, and that they're energetic and motivated.

Heather Mallick gave a great talk and the other panelists were fantastic as well. I really hope that everyone is now going to write to the paper - because I know that I am. (Suprise, ha ha). Also, L told me that she got tons of email addresses of people interested in being volunteer escorts. So great!

I really feel quite enthusiastic about this - I think that there's enough support in this province that we can actually change these policies and yank New Brunswick out of the black hole of the 1950s it seems to be stuck in.

Adeste Fideles. Bona Fortuna!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Slow Day

So today was pretty slow at the ol' baby-killing factory (ha ha). I was out back all shift and only escorted a few people. The protesters were quiet and well-behaved, and the women coming in were fine; no cryers or anything.

I did want to take this opportunity to point out that tomorrow night (Wednesday, April 11) is the Silent No More: Speak Out for Choice event at the law school. This event is open for everyone, is free, and people from either side of the debate are welcome. The guest speaker is Heather Mallick, and the topic is New Brunswick's (and Canada's) reproductive rights policies (or lack thereof). It's at Ludlow Hall (on the UNB campus) at 7pm. Spread the word!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Yelling Day at the Clinic

So much for thinking I wouldn't be standing out in the cold again for a while. Damn you snow!!

This morning I was back on the early shift. There were a lot of protesters - they just seem to keep multiplying! When I first started it was mostly middle-aged men but these days there are two young guys and a young woman. I don't know where (or how) they do their recruiting but it must be working.

It wasn't too eventful today. Me and T started out front, and the "moron" guy drove by quite early. He's this guy who drives by almost every week and shouts "You guys are morons!" at the protesters. When E showed up I went out back with her. None of the protesters were shouting or anything so that was good. However, we could hear yelling coming from out front so I went out to see what was up. I asked A and T where the yelling was coming from but they didn't know.

Later, the four of us switched places and the yelling started again. I couldn't hear what the guy was saying. I walked down the street and found that next door to the Mother and Child Welcome Centre (the anti-choice propaganda factory right next to the clinic), there was a house divided into apartments. Well, there was a guy shouting from the window of one of the apartments. He was shouting at the protesters. I made out a couple things that he was saying, including "we all went out and multiplied, now it's time to take some fucking responsibility!" and "I'm losing my voice yelling at you assholes!". So that was pretty funny. It certainly made a cold, snowy shift more enjoyable.

In other news, I got a biography of Dr. Morgentaler out of the library so I'm excited to read that. There were only six or seven books on abortion in the public library, and a couple of them were just "so you're thinking of aborting" type books. Maybe the school library will have some more. I want to have a more informed opinion on this as well as to be able to argue my side more effectively.

If anyone ever feels like buying the escorts some hot chocolate, we would really appreciate it. But not as much as we appreciate people who come and yell at the protesters, because it's fun to live vicariously through them.