Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mini-Holidays and Rhetorical (Maybe) Questions

This morning I was out on the front lines once again - SL decided to send me outside with the other escorts. I can't decide if I like escorting or being at the front desk more; both definitely have their advantages. Outside, I feel as if I am doing something that is directly beneficial to the patients. I get to chat to my friends, and see more of what the protesters are up to. But inside, I get to organize stuff (my secret love) and I get paid (hey, it had to be said).

I have to say, it was rough outside in terms of the cold - I could only hack one shift. It was good though, the Saint John crew was there so I got to see ol' Earpiece Charlie and the gang face to face. They weren't too bad today, but there were a couple drivers who expressed some interest in telling the protesters where to go, so that's always fun. All in all, it was nice to be outside again. A change is as good as a holiday, or so they say.

I'm having an interesting internet experience at the moment. In my essay that I read at the Ottawa celebrations, I mentioned that two of my friends in New Brunswick were refused pap tests by their doctors. It was an anecdotal example that was part of a larger point I was making about limits on access to reproductive health care in the province. Anyway, last week I received an email from Pamela Pizarro, who writes for RH Reality Check. She wanted to know more about my friends' experiences. Well, I couldn't really tell her much, since it was secondhand information to begin with, and it really wasn't a big focus in my essay. Anyway, I told her what I could. Well, she ran with it, and this is the result.

Since that story ran, I've been getting emails from random people, wanting to know who these doctors are, why my friends were refused paps, how many doctors I think might be doing this same thing, etc. etc. Which is fine; I've just been emailing them back with what I basically wrote in the paragraph above: I don't know any more about it than what my friends have told me; it was not the main point of my essay, or even of that sentence of my essay; and even if I knew who the doctors were, I'm not about to risk my butt by calling them out on it based on secondhand evidence (as much as I do trust the friends in question). So that's that, right?

Well imagine my surprise when yesterday I saw this posted at Feministing (internet love of my life). I left a comment to say I didn't think it was as big a deal as the author of the piece was implying, but I don't think anyone paid attention. I'm a little worried that this concern over "NB doctors refusing to give pap tests" is completely unfounded, or at least founded on an offhand remark I made in my essay. I guess when people pick up something shocking like this, they run with it, and it's easy to get outraged over something that doesn't really exist.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing Pizarro or Feministing. Obviously my story was true and they thought it was something we should be concerned about. I'm just weirded out because I'm getting these emails and it wasn't even the point of my essay. I feel like the internet attention focused on this "crisis" that is almost definitely NOT a crisis, is kind of ironic considering the essay was actually about a crisis that really DOES exist - the insanely insufficient standard of health care in New Brunswick, particularly for women.

Am I being a bitch about this? What do you guys think?

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Battles Won, and Those Ongoing

First of all, thank you so, so much, those of you who voted for me in the Canadian F-Word Blog Awards!! I won my category (Reproductive Liberty), so hoorah, and better yet I have discovered a lot of awesome feminist blogs in the process. Everybody wins! Go here to see the other winners (and runners up), and read the awesome message from none other than Heather Mallick, the love of my intellectual life.

On Saturday we had another stare-off with the kids from Bound 4 Life, who came to "siege" (their word) the clinic with...prayer. We were all pretty scared. Wink. Strangely enough I didn't get nearly as large a turnout of counter protesters as I did last time, even though it was much more planned out this time (ie a Facebook event was made), but I think this was mainly due to the hippie-friendly film festival ("Boost Your Eco") going on at the same time.

Regardless, we stood outside with our signs and faced them. This time their leader, KT, was not wearing the life tape - she was wearing tape across her stomach that said "spokesperson". However, when we tried to ask her questions, she told us that she was there to answer the questions of random passers by, and was not interested in debating with us. Boo.

I believe they are going to be doing this monthly. So we will do it monthly, too. I don't want their protests to go unanswered, and here's why: on their Facebook event this time, they put a little disclaimer about how they are not "against women's rights or people who are pro-choice", but that they are instead "for life". I don't know what their motivation would be for writing this, but they are wrong. They are against abortion, and the right to choose abortion is a woman's right - thus, against a woman's right. I believe that you can pray all you want to end abortion, you can pray and pray and pray, but as soon as you step outside and slap tape over your mouth and start "sieging" an abortion clinic, THEN you are making a political statement. And I sure as hell won't leave you alone just because you're "praying silently". Bullshit. You could pray silently at home. You want to be seen, for whatever reason, and if that's the case, I want to be seen opposing you. You make a political statement, I'll make one right back. The right of a woman to choose abortion is not one that we are just going to sit back and let you pray away.

That said, feast your eyes on the lovely picture below. I hope you all had a good weekend.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Because It's Fun to Vote

Thank you all for voting for me in the first round of the Canadian F-Word Blog Awards. I made it to the finals!! The final round of voting is up now (only until tomorrow!), so don't forget to vote for who you really want to win!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

For Your Viewing Pleasure

First, Bill Clinton gives it to the anti-choicers. Then, Charles Barkley (of all people) gives it to the "fake Christians".

Thanks, guys. I think I could probably stop blogging now - it's all been said.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Madness of Pedgehog

Today the city was like a skating rink. Seriously, if you had seen me walking from my door to the sidewalk, you would have thought I was a ninety-year-old woman who had lost her walker. Or some kind of demented penguin. The only way to move forward is to stretch both arms out (for balance, you know) and shuffle forward, one step at a time. It made me all nostalgic for my broomball days.

Something I don't think I'll ever be nostalgic for is Earpiece Charlie's face. Yes, the Saint John crew looks to be back for good, and everybody's favourite anti-choicer had himself camped in front of my window for a large part of the morning. JB closed her blinds in her office so Charlie and his sign couldn't stare in at patients while they made their payments, so instead he stands outside my window, staring in at me and the plant (I don't know if he realizes none of the patients can see him from the waiting room).

SL likes to sort of tease Charlie, by staring back at him or giving him a big grin and a thumbs up, but I don't really know how to deal with him. I find the other protesters amusing, but Charlie just makes me so ANGRY. He must know how threatening he looks - how dare he use that against women, to shame them? I try to be a non-violent person (in thought and action), but I just want to grab his stupid fucking sign and pummel him with it. Sometimes it is very difficult for me to forgive people for being so ignorant.

And that brings me to what I have been thinking about today, which is religious people. There are a couple prejudices I have about certain categories of people, and when I happen to meet someone who falls in one of those categories, I find it difficult to know how to talk to them. An example would be people who met their SO through online dating. This is entirely a fault of mine, and something I need to work on. I'm just trying to explain where I'm coming from.

Another of these prejudices is people who are really into their religion. I'm talking here about people who treat their religion as anything else but personal beliefs that they have. I can't handle it when people try to push their religion on to others, however they try to do that. This includes otherwise charitable "missionary work". I don't think it's good to try and "save" others. I think it's ignorant, colonialist and patronizing. This prejudice comes in no small part from some personal family issues I have inherited, which I am obviously not going to get into here.

I think that when people fail to "save" people (ie make everyone believe what they believe), they resort to using their own moral standards to make other people feel inferior. This is, obviously, where the protesters come in. I'm trying so hard not to judge them as people, but instead judge their actions - it's so difficult. I would like to quote from the Office: "I hate so much about what you choose to be". That's about where I'm at. But with less laughter.

I just think it's either terribly ignorant, or terribly judgmental, to call someone out for doing something that YOU believe is wrong. And yes, I realize I'm an extreme hypocrite because I'm doing the same thing right now. It's like one of those pictures of a picture of a picture of a picture, etc. I know there's a way I could express these feelings more articulately, and more kindly, but this is the effect the protesters have on people who value women as people. It makes us so angry we can't even speak. It makes us want to take a permanent marker and write "ASSHOLE" in big red letters across the foreheads of these middle-aged white men who DARE to judge us and our decisions. It makes us, in other words, want to stoop to their level. It is a difficult internal struggle, let me tell you.

I guess that's a little insight into why I blog - because without at least this one outlet, I would probably be running away from a red-festooned protester right now, with the marker in my hand, laughing maniacally. We who fight such ignorance and appalling abuses of logic have to find some way to keep ourselves sane.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shameless Self Promotion

Hello faithful readers. As you may have figured out from my lovely new little picture on the left, I have been nominated for a Canadian F-Word Blog Award, for Best Reproductive Liberty Blog. I was hoping that, if you like my blog you would go vote for me tomorrow. I would very much appreciate it. :)

The voting is from Feb. 15-16, and it happens here.

Thanks ever so much!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fetus =/= Person

The proposed Unborn Victims of Violence bill is intended, ostensibly, to bring to justice people who commit the particularly unsavoury crime of killing a pregnant woman (and thus ending both her life and the life of the potential baby). However, it is also a very sneaky attempt to discredit the pro-choice position and probably even take steps towards recriminalizing abortion, through giving the fetus 'personhood' status.

Here's my take. When a pregnant woman is murdered, the fetus she is carrying also dies. So, it makes sense to ask for a heavier sentence, since the family loses the woman and the potential child. Correct? Well...not exactly. Because once again, wanted or not, only the woman has a say over the pregnancy, no matter how much emotional stake the family has in it. Her body, her choice - that's the law. It sucks, but the alternative sucks a lot more. Here's why.

When you give someone a heavier sentence for killing a pregnant woman than they would receive for killing a non-pregnant woman, it sends one of two messages: either that the fetus is in fact a legal person, and thus deserves a separate charge; or a pregnant woman's life is somehow more valuable than that of a non-pregnant woman. Both messages are problematic; the first for its undeniable implications in the abortion debate, and the second for its overt value judgement (a woman has more value as an incubator than as a human being).

So that's my problem with it. It's a blatant attempt to get 'personhood' rights for the fetus. There is a clause within the bill that assures us it cannot be used to criminalize abortions, but let's be realistic; muddying the waters around who is a 'person' and who is not is the beginning of a very slippery slope, and it ain't going the way we want to go.

If you are against this bill, there are a few things you can do.

1. Let your MP know how you feel. Go here to find your MP by entering your postal code, then call, email or write to them and let them know that this sneak attack on women's rights is not acceptable.

2. Blog about it!

3. Sign this petition to oppose the bill.

Rock on friends.

Satan's Servant Returns

I'm back! And I have a lot to cover, so I'm going to get right to it.

First of all, an addendum to my Ottawa posts: it's been brought to my attention that I didn't talk a lot about the food I ate in Ottawa, so just going to mention here that I ate very well. Props especially to the Green Papaya, and Ahora. I would also like to mention that while I was in Toronto I ate pretty much exclusively on Bloor Street and everything there was delicious (and cheap!). So, you know, well done Ontario.

Okay. So I was back in action today (well, on reception) and it was very exciting. The protesters had their Saint John crew down for the first time in a while, so we got to see some of our old favourites again. Earpiece Charlie was there! He made the view outside my window very interesting. Yes, the protesters have taken up their old tactic of standing outside the windows in the hopes that the women inside will see their idiotic signs and steely gaze. Good job, Christian soldiers - I'm sure that's exactly what Jesus would have done. He was all about saving souls through glaring.

Father Grim was also out, and I believe I spotted the Holy Ghost. JF tells me he saw Crazy Legs, but they didn't let her out (so sad). Anyway, at least two patients came in visibly upset, so I guess the protesters accomplished what they set out to do (make women feel bad about their personal choices, that is). Hoorah.

In other news, I've been thinking about my blog in the weeks I've been away, and I would really like to redefine the purpose of it. Don't worry, I'll still be keeping you updated on the haps at the clinic, what the protesters are up to and so on, because I believe it's important that people know. However, since I am inside on reception most of the time I think the whole "escort" business should be only a part of what I blog about.

What I'm hoping to do is expand into other issues surrounding reproductive choice, repro rights, and access. Obviously it will be from a New Brunswick point of view because I live here, but I do want to address national as well as provincial issues. So I will probably be blogging more frequently, and perhaps it will be a little more interesting (that's the dream, anyway).

So to begin, I want to call your attention to the call out for progressive bloggers to speak out against the proposed Unborn Victims of Violence bill. My next post will address this - right now I'm going to take a breather. :)