Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out with the Old, etc.

It is that time of year when I look fondly back at the days when I was a student, and December actually meant a chance to breathe. Of course, the only thing I miss about being a student is having breaks, so it's probably best that I'm not. A student that is.

The point is, while most of my friends have some time off thanks either to a break in the school year or a lack of employment, I am feeling a little overwhelmed by my own schedule. Thank goodness I don't celebrate Christmas, or that would be another big stresser. (I know, how many anti-choicers who read this blog are surprised that I don't do Christmas? I am such an evil stereotype).

The last couple weeks at the clinic have been kind of bad, in terms of protesters - it's a time of year when a lot of our volunteer escorts go home for the holidays so we are short, and the protesters were quite aggressive. Thank goodness for the yellow vests.

The Mad Chatter is the worst. She has been talking away to the escorts, without a care in the world that they won't engage with her. Her favourite topic seems to be education, and how getting an education leads to being an evil pro-abort. At least she's out there keeping the volunteers entertained; it helps to have a distraction from the cold weather. TP came to volunteer last week, and of course he plays by his own rules; he followed the Mad Chatter around, asking her inane questions and keeping her occupied. As he was coming in to get his vest one of the protesters told him he had to go to confession, every week. TP's reply: "Every week? Lady, you must be doing a lot of sinning!".

So we have fun, even despite the cold. There was no clinic this week, so the volunteers got a breather. I have a new escort starting on Tuesday. The circle of life, and so on.

I hope you all have a wonderful new year. My resolution is to try to blog every week, in a timely manner. Let's see if I can do it!

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Reading Material

This Tuesday's clinic was once again very cold, but we were all heartened to see the continued success of the bright yellow vests. People really know what to look for, which is excellent.

Nothing much to report on in terms of protester activity, but plenty to say about protester fashion. Two of the ladies wore pink berets, which makes it very hard to know what to call them (confession: a lot of the time I can't actually tell the protesters apart, so when I say Glare-y Mary did this or Pink Hat did that, they may very well be one and the same). One of the pink-hatted ladies, however, had on some excellent cold-weather pants: bright orange! They looked to be splash pants, actually, but I have to believe they were warmer. Quite fetching, regardless - perhaps she is trying to compete with the escorts in terms of visibility?

Over the pants, the same lady was wearing a long fur coat. I read somewhere the other day that fur is making a comeback; apparently it has become somewhat passé to be offended by it. So I guess Pink Hat is just keeping with the style. Although the scotch-tape repairs to a tear in the shoulder could use some work.

I stopped reading the 40 Days for Life blog quite some time ago, after the updates stopped at Day 34. However, the ever-vigilant KM has pointed out to me that there are, in fact, more updates - including our little exercise in absurdism (see Day 35). KM's favourite part of the new content is the stuff about pigeons on day 35 which I agree is pretty fantastic. However, I think my favourite is on the penultimate day, when Critical Mass rode by, shouting out pro-choice chants (which I very much enjoyed from my office window). Peter Ryan says: "Isn’t it amazing how much energy some people can waste on foolishness?"

The irony, it burns!!

I also greatly enjoyed the rant about young people on Day 31. Only young people who participate in prayer vigils are not foolish, is what I got from it.

What I find the most fascinating is Peter Ryan's characterizations: of young people, of the escorts, but specficially of our clinic manager. The way he describes her, it makes me think of some comic book villain, lurking and glaring from the shadows. It makes me wonder a lot about what my blog must look like from an outsider's view.

Anyway, I know I shouldn't be giving them all this attention, but there are some things I just can't stand to keep to myself. :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New and Cold

So I know you're all dying to hear how things went with the new vests. In a word: fantastic! They are so much more visible than the blue pinneys, and the volunteers tell me that patients seem a lot more confident coming up to them. It's easier to tell that they are associated with the clinic and not the protesters.

The other interesting effect was the protesters shying away - they kept their distance more than usual this week. Most likely this is just temporary, but it is a good thing for the time being.

The real cold started to hit this week. The escorts came inside frequently to warm up, and a few took toe warmers to put on before their shift next week. Winter break is always tough because people go home for the holidays, so we have fewer volunteers covering the shifts, and it's really rough to stand out in the cold for an hour. Hopefully we can make it work.

Don't forget to attend the Montreal massacre memorial service tonight at the Student Union Building (UNB), in the Blue Room. It starts at 7pm.

Also, Feminists for Choice is looking for pro-choice activists' stories to compile into an e-book. Check it out!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Look for the Giant Highlighter

Whew, the comments around here have been a little out of conTROLL lately (haha, see what I did there?). What fun!

Clinic is still chugging along. We had our end of year party for the clinic escorts on Friday, and as far as I know, a good time was had by all. It's really important for us to get together and let the volunteers know how important they are and what a difference they make in the lives of patients and clinic staff. THANK YOU!!

One exciting thing that we are looking forward to is a change in uniform for our escorts. We normally have blue pinneys with "clinic escort" written on them in white lettering. These are pretty distinctive but what SL and I have been finding lately is that the volunteers aren't as visible as we'd like them to be. When you're a patient, especially when you're coming to the clinic for the first time, it can be a bit overwhelming to drive/walk up and see a sea of people with protest signs, so we really want the volunteers to be super visible. What we've decided on is highlighter-yellow, paramedic-style safety vests. We're trying them out for the first time this week, so I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but in the last couple weeks Pink Hat has been back in her pink beret! It's very exciting to see her living up to her nickname once again, especially since we've had a very mild November. The protesters have definitely been stepping it up in general in the last couple weeks. Holy water is flying all over the place, some big signs have come out (including old favourites like the one with the cross made out of fake flowers), and there's been some verbal harrassment.

Sometimes our escorts can't get there quick enough, as was the case with one young woman last week - a protester got to her first and started talking to her, so by the time the escorts found her and brought her inside she was in tears. There's not much we can do in situations like that except to pick up the pieces afterwards - after all, they certainly have a right to talk to people.

Despite the aforementioned mild November weather, winter is almost upon us (it snowed today!). Toe warmers are ready for the volunteers, and I've started dividing them into three shifts instead of two, something that I started last year (at MP's suggestion) and that has really worked out in the cold months, when a half hour less of standing still really makes a difference.

I can't think of any stories from the last clinic because I've been slack and left my blogging too long. Methinks a New Year's resolution is beginning to form. Anyway, stay warm, trust women. Etc.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Note on Trolls

Hi friends. I didn't blog this week, sorry. I'm just dropping in to clarify my position on commenters who use personal attacks and so on - in other words, trolls. I am not going to be feeding the trolls; however, I have no problem with the rest of you engaging with them (in fact, it makes me feel both amused and supported).

Also, I will always publish their comments because I believe that it's important to see the kind of hatred we are up against, and the harrassment that abortion providers and patients face every day. These are people who cannot even put together a logical argument, or engage in debate; they show up right away with ad hominem attacks dripping in vitriol because that's all they have. They don't like women. They seems to be overwhelmingly anti-semetic. They are not worth our time, and yet at the same time I feel that it's important that we acknowledge that they are out there.

So there. I have published every comment ever submitted on this blog (except for a couple that were spam). And I won't be talking to people who come out swinging. But I support those who choose to. Because choice is awesome. ;)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Letters from the Quarantine Zone

Why yes, I haven't blogged for a while. I am almost as bad at updating as Peter Ryan (oh, snap!).

So, I have swine flu....maybe? Regardless, I am sick. So I may as well blog. The protesters really stepped it up this past Tuesday - maybe because of Remembrance Day, or maybe just to be dicks, it's hard to say. Regardless, there were a lot of them and they were being more aggressive than usual.

There is a new protester (as of last week). He is a young guy (well, younger than the rest of them) and he is nicely dressed, with a black leather coat. He stood across the street last week, which is a little weird because the rest of the protesters walk around on our side of the street. This week new guy started across the street but eventually came over to our side of the street. He got the honour of holding the "in memoriam" sign with the cross made out of glued-on plastic flowers. It is one of my favourites. Point being, we definitely need a nickname for this dude! Lay those suggestions on me in the comments.

A couple good observations from volunteer escorts this week. The first, from KM:

"[One of the escorts] was showing [another escort] a variety of dances that he had never heard of, including "The Shopping Cart", "The Chicken", "The Shower", and other things. We were all laughing, and then a flock of [protesters] near by looked at her with sad eyes, and said "Now imagine if her mother had aborted her".

Well....I guess then the other escort would still not know those dance moves? I mean seriously, the whole "what if your mother had aborted you" argument might just be the worst one. Or I guess the least effective one. I don't even want to get into it, it is so full of fail.

The second thing was that AB overheard one of the protesters telling another that God had called on her to quit her job and be a stay-at-home mom, and she had never worked since then. I wish God would help me make life decisions. Although afterwards we were talking about it and a couple of the escorts agreed that they felt "called" to be clinic escorts. So is God playing us, or what?

Anyway, if you weren't at the Andrea Gibson show last night you should be kicking yourself, because she is amazing. Google her. And if you are in Halifax tonight, please go see her - it will change your life, I promise.

I know there's more I want to blog about but I am DYING OF SWINE FLU. Bring me soup.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jeff Goldblum is My Co-Pilot

So October has maybe been the busiest month for me so far. I'm not really sure why, it just happened that everything converged at once. So of course I'm at my most stressed during 40 Days of Ridiculousness.

That said, they haven't really bothered me that much. I feel more concerned for them (it's quite cold out there!) than annoyed. It's been a pretty interesting few weeks.

Last week SL had some signs made that I put up in the windows. They are shaped like stop signs, and they say things like "stop shame" and "stop intimidation". I guess just to get the protesters thinking about what they're doing - not that I think it will have any effect, but one can always hope.

Really, a great way to deal with this sort of stuff is by taking the piss. Yesterday after all the patients were inside, three of the escorts and I went over to stand with the vigil, with signs of our own. They said ridiculous things like "Kittens are adorable", "Safety first", "Dinosaur justice second", "Jeff Goldblum is my co-pilot" (that one was mine), and "If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it". We just wanted to play up the absurdity of their message, get a little post-modern up in here. It was fun. It drew most of them out of the house to come and stand with us/around us, and to pray and sing loudly.

We only got one verbal reaction from the protesters; the Mad Chatter starting asking us about the signs (she wanted to know "whose safety" we were putting first - I don't think she understood the concept of random sayings), and then when we wouldn't take our bait, she asked if we had helped raise money for Henry Morgentaler. She said she couldn't figure out why university students would raise money for "a multi-millionaire". I think I strained my eyes from rolling them so hard.

I also just noticed that the Mad Chatter's sign (not "I regret my abortion", the other one) is really ambiguous. It says "stop abortion hurts women". So...stop! Abortion hurts women? Or, stopping abortion hurts women? I can haz clarity?

Clinics have been fine the last couple of weeks. Patients haven't been noticably more upset by the vigil. I know they think they are saving babies by being there, but everyone who has left so far has been either too far along or not pregant. There was a young woman who changed her mind a couple weeks ago, but she came back this week (to my surprise! I thought for sure she wanted to have a baby). And there was a woman who went to their place last week, but she found us this week and went ahead with the abortion. I'm always in awe of the bravery of some of these women. I think a lot of them don't even realize how fierce they are until they walk through those idiots outside to get the care they need. It's really cool.

Yesterday a stranger on Facebook was kind enough to message me and inform me of my evil ways:

"Peggy, you aid in killing unborn babies on a daily basis. Sadistically you seem to be proud of that as well. You work in a culture of death. Even though what you are doing is morally wrong and aborehent I am convinced that you have as much a chance at realizing that as David Letterman does zipping up.

Now it is one thing to start a group like that [I admin a Facebook group supporting Dr. Morgentaler]. But what makes it ten times worse is the fact that you physically partake in the exact atmosphere you promote.

I don't know your parents, but personally mine taught me a little better than that. I'd be ashamed if that was my daughter."

So, sorry Mum and Dad - you fucked up. I sent this guy a message back asking if this kind of hateful shaming message ever works (as in, does it ever succeed in changing an evil pro-abort's black, frosty heart), but haven't heard back yet. I'm on the edge of my seat.

Oh, friends. The end of the 40 days draws near...soon we can go back to just the normal level of harrassment. Can't wait!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rainy Days and New Faces

There hasn't been much to blog about in the last couple weeks, surprisingly. The protesters continue their 40-day vigil, as the weather gets continually colder, wetter and generally yuckier. There were a couple days when some school-aged children joined the protest; some from a Catholic school and some who were home-schooled. I feel pretty bad for them, but at least now they know where the clinic is if they ever need us later.

I have three new volunteers coming this week, so that's exciting! One benefit of the extra protester presence is that it galvanizes pro-choice people into action. We get people who just drop in and ask how they can volunteer, because they were so pissed off by the protesters walking by.

I am still reading their blog, and don't know whether to find it amusing or scary. Sometimes I just find that extreme earnestness really creepy. I mean, they really believe they are, quite literally, saving babies.

I wrote a letter to the paper - I don't know if it will make it in or not, but I felt that it might be good to occasionally counter Mad Thad's lunacy. I'm not sure if the paper even wants to print my letters any more; I got really fired up about marriage equality a couple years ago, and wrote a whole bunch. But they publish crazier people than me, so maybe it'll work out.

Only two more clinic days until 40 Days for Life is over, which is a relief. Even though they are not more aggressive than usual, it will be great to not have them standing there with their stupid signs and their creepy stares any more.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Matters of Death and Life


I have a legitimate excuse for the hiatus this time. My grandmother passed away on Friday. Thus, I spent most of my weekend moping/grieving/doing family stuff, and didn't do anything on my general "to do" list, and am now totally behind in life. Not to get too personal, and maybe it's super tacky to eulogize people on the internet, but my grandmother was a fierce lady. She was strong and independent and stubborn and awesome, and she taught me a lot about simplicity and kindness. Rest in peace Nanny.

I know you're all dying to know how 40 Days for Life is going, right? Well, they are still out there, every day. It has been raining a lot, which pleases me. I have seen a couple people stop and talk to them; sometimes it's hostile but most of the time it seems pretty pleasant.

Clinic was pretty ridiculous. I think the combination of the normal protesters hanging around the clinic and the vigil types standing across the street creates a pretty intimidating environment for some of the patients. They are getting in, though, thanks to the volunteers, and most of them are in pretty good spirits. Crazy Legs was out yesterday in a jaunty newsboy cap paired with a trenchcoat - the whole look was very old-timey journalist. Tres chic. Glare-y Mary was getting all up in everyone's grill, as usual.

The police were called (by the protesters) twice. The first time was because one of our clinic staff had parked her car right next to the clinic, which makes it hard for the protesters to bother people (such a shame). However, as JB (whose car it was) explained to the police, that area is not city property; it belongs to George Street School, who are quite happy to let us park there.

The second time they came was because SL was supposedly "harrassing" Glare-y Mary by walking alongside her. You know, getting in her personal space, much like what they do to patients. I'd be careful what you call "harrassment", friends - it might come back to bite you. Regardless, Suzie Ryan had her cell phone camera out across the street to record this supposed "harrassment", and continued to record after a teacher from George Street went over to ask her to stop. And this is my problem with them: I understand their notion that they care about life and want to protect it, but I don't understand how people who care so much about human life seem so unconcerned with common decency and kindness towards human beings.

But hey, if you find my record of their vigil incomplete, feel free to read their account! (h/t to one of our awesome volunteers, KM, for finding this!).

Also, one thing I want to set straight - you guys are not saving babies. I have worked here for over two years and I've never seen one woman change her mind because of the protesters. Some of them change their minds, of course, but for their own reasons. The closest the protesters come to changing minds is when women drive by and are too intimidated or scared by the protesters to come in. If that's how you want to "save" "babies", by bullying women into continuing pregnancies, then congratulations. You are absolute scum.

I know sometimes it seems like women have changed their minds, but this rarely happens; I would say 90% (if not more) of the women who actually show up, go through with the abortion. If you see someone leave shortly after they come in, it is probably because either they aren't pregnant (a false positive on a pregnancy test or, more likely, they miscarried) or they are too far along and we've had to refer them somewhere else (like Montreal or Toronto). Cases like last week when the young woman left immediately after coming in are rare. I wasn't too surprised about her - she was reluctant when she confirmed her appointment, and her father called afterwards to express his concerns. She was already incredibly conflicted about the decision, and I believe she had already decided before she walked in the door that she didn't want an abortion. I hope that in the end, she made the right decision for herself; she is at least blessed with supportive and understanding parents, which is something a lot of young women don't have (especially young women who get pregnant at seventeen).

Last week the clinic hosted an excellent workshop on pre- and post-abortion counselling. We had a counsellor from the Toronto Morgentaler Clinic come and put it on, and there were a lot of people in attendance - more than I would have guessed. There is, it is clear, a huge need for this kind of counselling. An important part of access to reproductive health care is ensuring that women get the support they need when making difficult decisions (and in dealing with the decisions afterwards).

In other news, gumbooting is back in my life. Hooray!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Praying to End the Nonsense

So, as some of you may know, this Wednesday marked the beginning of the annual "40 Days for Life", which involves ant-choice protesters standing outside their local clinic for 40 days straight in an effort to end abortion through the power of prayer. (Can you see my eye-roll through the internet?).

I was expecting Tuesday's clinic to be a little more intense than usual, but I didn't find it to be too bad. The main difference was that there were already protesters out when I arrived; usually when I get there they are just getting started, so there might be one hard-core old person but never a gaggle. On Tuesday as I was locking up my bike I was greeted with the sight of three women walking shoulder to shoulder towards me; they stood in front of me and prayed out loud the whole time I locked my bike and got my purse out of the pannier. One of them said "good morning" to me, but I don't say good morning to people I don't like. I would make a bad Christian, probably.

A passerby stopped to have some words with the protesters, which hasn't happened in a while and is always welcome. It's good to know when the public is on our side, and it says something about how enraged they must be to stop and "chat" with strangers.

The actual 40 days thing is kind of interesting in a pathetic sort of way. It is an American concept that has been spreading into Canada only in recent years. Our protesters are standing across the street - there is usually between two and seven of them out there at a time. They hold signs that say "Pray to end abortion" and that kind of nonsense. I'm sort of baffled as to what the point of it all is, but apart from that it's nowhere near as obtrusive as their Tuesday morning exploits, so it doesn't bother me. They're not bugging any patients, they're not harrassing the staff, they're just out there in the rain looking kind of sad. That's their right, I guess.

There are, of course, other clinics where it's much more harmful (especially clinics that perform abortions all week instead of just one day). If you're interested in clinic defence where you live, PLEASE contact the clinic first and ask them what they need. Most clinics would much rather have patient escorts than counter-protesters.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back to Reality

Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm really effing lazy.

I have had a pretty big couple of weeks, and I've been really slow getting back into the swing of my regular routine. And since I suck at blogging regularly anyway, obviously you all lose.

So. I was at a wedding a couple weekends ago. I try not to go to weddings, mainly because I hate them (yes I am a horrible person), but this was a friend of mine from university. I was in a pretty cool program and graduated with a very small, very close class. We have since spread ourselves out across the country, so any chance to see my buds and celebrate with them is one I try to grab hold of.

Anyway, two of my former classmates who I got to see were pregnant. One of them, who was nine months along and just about ready to pop, is married and very excited; she has a medical condition where if she gets pregnant after 30, there's a very good chance it could have a drastic (negative) affect on her health. So she is keen to get her family started. The other is only two months along - not showing yet - and while she is also happily married and planning on keeping the baby, her pregnancy was totally unexpected. She just had a baby a year ago (also unplanned). I know that both children will be raised in a loving home and will probably be pretty awesome kids, it's pretty interesting to see how my friend and her husband are handling it. It's kind of awkward, teetering between joyous excitement and oh-god-how-can-we-afford-this. Watching the politics of what I think about/deal with every day play out in the lives of close friends is...interesting, if nothing else. The personal really is political.

I was also kind of ticked because about a month before she must have conceived, I sent them a package of crap for their wedding anniversary and the first baby's birthday, and there were a bunch of condoms in it (I put condoms in every package I send to everyone). Come on guys, I SENT you the condoms! (Seriously, I love you guys).

Anyway....the NEXT weekend, I went to the Omega Institute in upstate New York for a conference: Women + Power: Connecting Across the Generations. It was AWESOME. I met Helen Thomas!! I feel like that's all I need to write about it, but I guess I should also say that I went to a blogging workshop given by the editors of Feministing. It was really helpful and I actually learned a lot, despite the fact that I was overwhelmed about being in the same room as my blogging heroes. I also had a lot of cool conversations throughout the weekend with some pretty bad-ass ladies. Most of them, when they found out I am Canadian, wanted to talk about health care reform. Which is fine by me! Sometimes I forget how different Americans are. It was excellent to explore the comparisons.

Besides Helen Thomas (I met her!!), the coolest lady at the conference was Sakena Yacoobi. Google her. New hero of life.

So, the other thing I need my blog readers to know is that my partner, who is a third year law student, just got word that he has an articling position next summer just outside of Toronto. Which is VERY EXCITING because it means I get to live in Toronto, which means I won't be living in New Brunswick! Woop woop! Obviously not working at the clinic is going to make a difference to the blog, and I'm starting to think about what direction I want to go with it. Exciting changes ahead.

I know this entry was all personal, no clinic, and I apologize. I promise that starting this week, I will be back on track with all your favourite protesters and their crazy shenanigans. After all, this week marks the beginning of 40 Days for Life, which is sure to be fabulous. Mwahahahaha!

To keep it unnecessarily personal...just wanted to say it's been a year since my buddy Brad passed away. Rest in peace, friend.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Poetry Postponed

Tuesday's clinic was busy. The protesters weren't too bad, although Pink Hat did get a hold of a couple on their way in, before the escorts could get there. They still came in, but they were a little upset and Pink Hat was more smug than usual. But if you didn't save the baby, didn't you lose?

I don't know if I can adequately put into words the jumble of my life right now. I am going to Ontario for a friend's wedding this weekend (well, I'm leaving today), and going to NY state for a conference next weekend, so my mind isn't entirely on clinic stuff right now. My partner is in the middle of figuring out what happens after law school, so it's tense.

I was going to do a rather poetic post about bathrobes, the bathrobes people wear and the ones we have, and what people wear in general, and what comfort means to different people. But I can't. I'm too scattered. I will try to write one before next clinic, I promise.

Looks like you prefer Glare-y Mary as a nickname over Lady in Red. I will blog accordingly in future. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Engaging in Madness

Oh, where to start. I wish I had blogged right away, because the escorts were telling me all these different things, and I know I'm going to forget some of them.

The protesters didn't look any different than usual from inside (except an exceptionally bloody Jesus on the cross they were waving in our direction), but I guess the crazy was being poured on hot and thick out there. One of them was offering to adopt every patient's child. Tempting offer, right ladies? That's all you were waiting for - some over-zealous weirdo holding a sign to offer to take the kid off your hands, yes?

Another protester was telling the escorts that we force people into the clinic all the time. She vividly recalled seeing one woman, "obviously drugged", being dragged in here by two large men. Uh-huh. It's funny what you can talk yourself into believing, isn't it? I wonder, if we force people to come in all the time (clearly illegal!), why don't they call the police and let them know?

Sometimes it can be hard for the volunteers not to engage, especially when the protesters talk directly to them. AD, to her credit, when one of them (I think it was Lady in Red) approached to argue some ridiculous thing, told her that she wasn't going to listen to her illogical arguments and that she wasn't supposed to engage with her anyway. Later the protester may have been wiping away a tear...see AD, she just wanted to be your bud.

And of course the "arguments" they spew are always some crap about "what if your mom aborted you?", etc. Sometimes the ones who think they are on our side are even worse, though - there was a passerby who started yelling at the protesters, telling them to get jobs and so on, but then he said something along the lines of "do you really want there to be no abortions? Do you really want babies being born to these crackheads and losers?". SIGH.

See, I'm sure there's lots of things that I'm missing. Leave your stories in comments, escorts. Also, since it turns out Glare-y Mary and Lady in Red are the same person, make sure to let me know (in the poll) which nickname you prefer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Who Jesus Loves

I didn't blog last week. I don't even have an excuse, I've just been too hot. I've mostly been surviving on popsicles and the fact that the clinic is air-conditioned. I would sleep here if there were popsicles.

So I missed a classic opportunity to shamelessly self-promote, but here it is: go check out the piece I wrote for Feminists For Choice.

Also, while I'm dishing out the news, I hope you've all seen this. It seems the province of New Brunswick, in perhaps the only good decision they've ever made about anything, are not going to appeal the decision to give Dr. Morgentaler standing to sue. So, on to the trial (at some point). Discuss.

Clinic the last two weeks has been as interesting as ever. This week one of the protesters was taking pictures of the escorts, so look for some familiar faces on the cover of Evil Baby-Killers Monthly. Last week Lady in Red asked a couple escorts if they had ever seen pictures of "aborted babies" on the internet. To which EN replied that yes, they sure do have a lot of crazy things on that internet.

This week there was a lot of reassuring us that Jesus loves us. One of them told TO this as she was leaving, to which she replied that yes, she knew, being a Catholic. Well, you know that confuses them. When they tried to tell AD that Jesus loves her, she replied with what they described as an "evil cackle". Excellent. I seem to be the only one Jesus doesn't love, however. As I was unlocking my bike to leave, I heard Monochrome tell a departing couple that Jesus loved them. But when I rode by her (slowly) a couple seconds later, she just glared. I guess the big guy in the sky finally gave up on me, which is kind of a relief.

It's that time of year when things switch over - I have a couple escorts leaving, a couple returning. I guess I should enjoy this horrific, sweltering weather while I can, since soon it will be time to start complaining about the cold again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sticky Times

Ok friends, the weather is finally taking a turn for the INCREDIBLY HOT AND STICKY. But sometimes it's lovely. Tuesday's clinic was fine, all our favourites were out in full force. Just in time to greet my partner, EN, who just got back from a sojourn to the south and is volunteering until school starts again. When the two of us arrived at the clinic at around 7:15am we were greeted by the sight of the Lady in Red. Perhaps her fake baby had trouble sleeping, because it was out there with her with the usual sign around its neck.

Heavens. Not TOO much madness, although one of the protesters did ask an escort what happens to the "babies" after the abortion. He replied that it doesn't matter, or something like that. And then the protester came up later and asked WHY it didn't matter, at which point the "do not engage" rule conveniently kicked in. Seriously, do these people really think the volunteers want to have a discussion with them about abortion? Could that really end well? For those who want to know, and to satisfy our next-door neighbours' curiousity (and to keep them out of our dumpster), medical waste is disposed of by professionals. It is taken away from our clinic by said professionals and most likely incinerated at a facility specifically designed for such. Please feel free to draw ridiculous parallels to the Holocaust (there, I Godwinned for you, so you don't have to).

We've started a few new volunteers lately, which is excellent. We are drawing upon the beginning of the school year, when the inevitable switch-over happens and a bunch of people leave, while a bunch more people return. Excitement is in the air.

Still working on my guest post for Feminists for Choice - I promise I haven't forgotten. I'm also halfway through an article for the ARCC newsletter; just one of those months when I pile up stuff to do and then buy a Harry Potter videogame and ignore my responsibilities. Overwhelmed as usual.

On a happier note, buy some buttons!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Boggy Muggy Pedgy

So clinic today was quite a circus, which I guess is becoming the norm around here. It actually wasn't quite AS bad as it has been lately, but bad enough. Still a lot of yelling, some chanting, some Jesus all up in everyone's grill. I had two new escorts starting today, and they both seem like they will come back, so I guess we have to count our blessings.

I'm still adjusting to being back, or maybe I'm just adjusting to being busier than usual. I have a lot of stuff on the go right now. Most notably this AWESOME FESTIVAL that you should all come to/participate in. Yes.

Let's see, who was out today? Well I definitely saw a lot of Lady in Red. She really does wear that same red outfit every week. At first I thought she just had a monochromatic wardrobe, like one of our awesome escorts, but then I realized that it is the exact same outfit. Does she have this special outfit she wears just for protesting? Or does she have a closet full of the same outfit, Inspector Gadget-style?

We had no cop this week. Nothing major happened (as far as I know - escorts, fill me in, in comments!) except one of the patients' friends yelled some choice curse words at the protesters. Always awesome.

It is hot as balls out there, and not in a pleasant way. In a repulsive, sticky way. So you know, not awesome, but not rain.

This article came my way today from Feminists for Choice - it's an interview with Gloria Feldt, the former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. You should check it out. I might be doing a guest blog for them in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Pedge Returns

Hello friends. I am well aware that I haven't blogged for a couple weeks. It is because I have been having an AWESOME TIME on VACATION!

I'm back now, however, and while I am still sort of getting back on track with life in general, I will be blogging again soon (probably this week). There's no clinic today, but I'm sure I have lots of news to catch up on in the world of abortion. And I have some choice-related stuff to share. And I know that last week's clinic was a doozy, so if any escorts care to share anything in comments, that would be awesome.

So yeah. I'm back.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Storm's a-brewin'

Tuesday's clinic was in keeping with the tone lately: the weather was gloomy, and the protesters were out in full force. And I mean full force. Earpiece Charlie was back for the first time in AGES - maybe like a year. Lady in Red was carrying a baby doll with a sign around its neck; I couldn't read the sign but I can guess what it said.

SL had to go out a couple times and give out letters telling the protesters to stop staring in our windows. That really gets me; at how many other jobs would people be expected to put up with people staring in their office windows? It is harrassment, plain and simple. I always wonder about protesters who are still convinced they are out there to help people. How can they be so deluded?

SL also called the cops at one point. They came, and the officer just parked his car in the lane and sat and watched them. It was excellent to have him there, I have to say. Suzie Ryan was out with her big fetus sign, and she stayed after the escorts left, even after all the other protesters had gone in. But the cop stayed as long as she did, which was excellent. It's good not to bother the police too often, but it's also good that the protesters know that we're not afraid to call them.

I had a couple friends visiting briefly - two top-notch feminist pro-choice activist types. I convinced them to extend their stay to Tuesday so they could check out the gong show in front of the clinic. They even went into the Mother and Child Welcome House! I have yet to hear the details of how that went, but it was fun to see the reaction when they went next door; the whole place was abuzz and a bunch of the protesters went in to talk to them - including Crazy Legs and the Mad Chatter. See, we can be sneaky too - take that, Lila Rose.

There was some graffiti on the clinic last week, but it was very small and faint and it's hard to get upset about someone who can't even spell "murder" correctly. Just sayin'.

I have to say, shout out to our awesome volunteers. Clinic escorts are heroes. You guys put up with so much crap, and you are always decent about it. I don't know if you realize how much the patients and the staff appreciate your presence. Thank you.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's Those Front Lines Everyone Talks About...

Ok, so the protesters are getting really bad. Like, I would say even as bad as it was when I first started two years ago - before we started seriously going after the bubble zone, back when Crazy Legs would throw herself at cars. It's a different technique that they have now, but it's bad.

First of all, not only was the lady who dresses all in red out there, there was another one, all dressed in white! So from now on, it'll be Lady in Red and her sidekick, Monochrome. Peter Ryan was out there. The Mad Chatter had a sign that said "I regret my abortion" which was quite distressing. I just wanted to go out and say, "ok, let's talk about that". But we all know what the real intention of signs like that are. And the Mary statue was there, the statue Peter likes to cradle in his arms in a weird mother-and-child tableau I don't even want to begin to analyze.

And if that wasn't enough, Suzie Ryan was out (AFTER all the patients were in and the escorts went home), with her big stupid fetus sign that's as tall as she is. Of course, school is out so she thinks no one will call the cops. Well, we'll see.

They are just being awful, and it's not just the signs. It's screaming at the clinic manager: "How many abortions have you had??" It's saying things to the escorts. It's being just a couple steps over the line of human decency.

Right now I'm in the process of working out a support system for the escorts so they have an outlet for the frustration/discomfort of putting up with this crap. But it's a good group, and I have a couple more people starting in the next few weeks, so as always, we will prevail.

Something cool for y'all to check out: Randy McKeen calling for a bubble zone on Capital FM! (Go listen soon, because it probably will rotate off the site).

Also, NB provincial government cabinet shuffle - what does everyone think? If you get a sec, maybe shoot Mary Schryer an email and let her know how much you're looking forward to her being the new Minister for Health and working with us on improving abortion access. ;)

Keep up the struggle, friends!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fashion and Weather

Obviously, yes, the Mad Chatter is the best name for the chatty lady. Now we have a new challenge: there is a protester who has come, for several weeks now, dressed top to bottom in red. Lady in Red? Monochrome? Help me out here people.

Not too bad this week - had a definite shortage of volunteers on the early shift, but the lovely TB held her ground. And of course SL was out walking with the protesters, keeping them on their toes as always. Check out SL's excellent letter to the editor (it's the second one down).

I am personally loving the sudden influx of anonymous trolls around here - stuff like the Tiller murder really brings them out of the woodwork, am I right?

Oh, I can't remember if I've already linked to it or not, but you should all definitely check out I am Dr. Tiller. It's amazing. You can also follow them on Twitter (and, in case you didn't know, you can follow me too! But I am not that interesting, honestly). I think in the near future I will do some kind of round-up of websites and Twitters you should be checking out, but right now I am MUCH too lazy.

The weather has been lovely the past few days, but of course it has now reverted back to grey and potentially rainy. I have a very exciting summer holiday (well, if ten days can be called a holiday - first world problem!) planned that will take me to a much sunnier place, so I'm finding it hard to be too upset. Just saying, though, that perhaps this week escorts and protesters alike might want to bring an umbrella. Or if the protesters could bring back the matching yellow rainsuits, that would be worth the crappy weather.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Another New Friend

Hi friends, sorry I didn't blog last week. I was SO ANGRY, and I just had to take myself away from internet stuff related to the Tiller murder.

There is a new protester as of last week. She is a very chatty lady, and most of her words are directed at our escorts as opposed to the patients. When our clinic manager went outside to check out the scene, as she often does, the new protester chatted away to her, mostly about what a horrible way it is to make a living (running an abortion clinic, that is). Her intent seems to be to get under our skin...which is kind of a waste of time, but whatever, I guess it's better (maybe?) than going after the patients.

The point is, we need a nickname for her. Help me out, people.

This week, there was a bit of excitement outside. Pink Hat (or the Artist Formerly Known as Pink Hat) called the police on SL, the clinic manager, for walking too close to her or something. The police came but I think they determined that being in someone's personal space isn't really a crime (anyway, it's pretty much exactly the same thing that they do to patients). Pink Hat also said SL was verbally abusing her, which is funny, because SL didn't say anything at all. One of the other protesters took like eight hundred pictures with his cell phone of SL just standing there. The whole thing was kind of surreal.

Interesting times. We had a vigil for Dr. Tiller on Saturday night, and it went very well. We had a good turn out (around 40 people), and no antis. I didn't get the closure I was hoping for but it was wonderful to know that so many people care, and that the movement is still strong.

Weather is grey and miserable. Where is summer?

Monday, June 1, 2009

What You Can Do

Hi friends - thanks for your support. It's good to see the pro-choice community coming together to mobilize and push forward, even though it takes a terrible tragedy to make it happen.

As mentioned before, Feministing has a great post up about what you can do in the aftermath of Dr. Tiller's death to honour his contribution to women's rights. I thought you also might like to know where you can donate in Dr. Tiller's name. In no particular order...(note: most of these are American organizations):

Medical Students for Choice
National Network of Abortion Funds
Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada
National Abortion Federation
Planned Parenthood
Canadian Federation for Sexual Health
Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health
The George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund
NARAL Pro-Choice America
Abortion Care Network
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
The Morgentaler Defense Fund

Let me know if you know of any others.

Also, there is a vigil being held in Ottawa tomorrow night. Here are the details:

Date: Tuesday, June 2.
Time: 8:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Human Rights Monument, Elgin & Lisgar

If anyone knows of any other Canadian vigils being planned, please let me know in comments and I will update. I'm hoping to put one together for Fredericton and I will let you know the details as soon as possible.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Matter of the Heart

"Abortion is not a cerebral or a reproductive issue. Abortion is a matter of the heart. For until one understands the heart of a woman, nothing else about abortion makes any sense at all." - Dr. George Tiller

I know I should blog about Dr. Tiller, because when you have a lot of feelings (as I do), it’s good to get them out. And in case you hadn’t noticed, I get a lot of that stuff out by writing.

I am not a journalist. This has already been reported, opined on and blogged about all over the internet. The best coverage, comments, and things you can do are on Feministing, and they’ve also rounded up some of the other very good coverage and opinion. Anyway, I just want to talk about my feelings; this is more for my benefit than your edification. Read at your own peril.

When I first opened the email from ARCC this afternoon and read that Dr. Tiller had been killed, I was shocked. Since then I have been riding a roller coaster of emotions. I’m not really good yet, and I probably shouldn’t be writing about it yet (my hands are still shaking on the keyboard), but I gotta get it out.

Sadness – obviously, first and foremost, I’m devastated for his family and loved ones. How horrendous to have someone you love and support gunned down in a place of worship and peace. It breaks my heart to think what they must be going through right now, and will continue to go through for a long time.

Anger – this is the main one. I’m so fucking mad I can’t even see straight. George Tiller was a courageous, strong, compassionate person who gave up his safety and ultimately his life to help women who had nowhere else to go. Abortion providers go through so much more shit than anyone could ever know. You don’t do that to get rich. You do it because you care. What kind of sick piece of crap thinks it’s justified to take his life?

What makes me even more livid is that any anti-abortion organization or individual has the temerity to speak out about this – for or against. Fuck you. You created the atmosphere of fear in which abortion providers live every day of their lives. You put their names and faces on your websites, you spew lies, you draw in people with just the right amount of crazy and need to belong that they would go out and shoot someone because of your cause. YOU MADE THIS HAPPEN, and you can go fuck yourselves.

Hopelessness – not much to say about that. Coming so soon after the appeal win, it’s like we’re back to square one in the fight against the anti-choicers.

Fear – I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the protesters in terms of the threat they present. The ones at our clinic seem harmless enough. But it just takes one person to take one step over the edge, and that’s it. How hard would it be for them to find out our names, addresses, habits? How hard would it be for them to bomb us? This changes everything; I feel very on edge about going to work at the clinic after this. I’m scared for the volunteers, I’m scared for our doctor, I’m scared for the staff, I’m scared for the patients, I’m scared for myself.

So, in conclusion, I pretty much want to curl up and die. I feel a deeper sense of loss than I thought possible for a person I met once, very briefly. I feel like it’s a lot easier to say “we can’t let them win” when it’s over things like signs and pink hats. I still believe it, of course – we can’t let them win. I just feel like this is going to take us a long time to get over. I know it’s going to take me a long time.

But you know, like Dr. Tiller said, “attitude is everything”. I have to believe we can recover, and fight back, and be stronger than ever. Pro-woman, pro-child, pro-choice. Rest in peace, Dr. Tiller. You will be greatly missed.

RIP George Tiller

I just found out that George Tiller died; he was shot to death at church this morning.

I will have more to say on this when I get myself together. I just thought y'all should know.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Short One

Yesterday's clinic started out wonderfully; the protesters were not there for the majority of the morning, and the change in atmosphere was palpable. No one came in crying, everyone was a lot less tense, which makes the staff less tense, which makes everything pretty awesome.

Of course, they did show up eventually. Pink Hat was no longer wearing her pink hat! It wasn't a particularly warm day so I can't imagine why she didn't feel the need to wear it. What a pity.

Meanwhile, I'm going in today to meet with a woman from the CBC who wants to talk to me about my morning after pill project. Speaking of media, I wonder if you caught me on the radio talking about the Morgentaler appeal decision? If not, you can read the article here.

The email campaign asking Mike Murphy to resign is going very well; lots of people have contacted him. Now it's all just a waiting game to see if the province decides to go to the Supreme Court. Things are brewing though; the next few months are going to be exciting (I hope!).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Spring Shenanigans

So, there was no clinic this week, which is kind of a good thing because I have lots of other stuff to talk about.

First of all, I went to check out the March for Life at the provincial legislature on Thursday. What a good time! It was smaller than last year, and as always I found it thoroughly amusing/terrifying that most of the attendees were either male, or below or above reproductive age. I really want these people deciding what goes on in my uterus.

I was joined by some pro-choice friends, and we skulked around in the background, listening to the speeches. There were some pro-choice people who looked to be high school age, who showed up with signs and engaged some of the lifers in debate. Of course the media was quick to come over to them, so I hope they were able to hold their own. I briefly considered giving a comment but as soon as I heard they were debating, I decided to stay out of it. I'm trying not to get drawn into pointless arguments any more, on the internet and certainly in real life (especially when representing the clinic or ARCC!).

We followed the march back to Brunswick Street, where they went behind their building to pray and carry on for a bit. They didn't stay too long, though, as their reception was being held this year in the brand new Knights of Columbus hall. I bet they had really delicious cookies.

One of the people who spoke at the March for Life was our horrible Minister of Health, Mike Murphy. Afterwards he (foolishly) commented to the media that he is "not entirely" comfortable enforcing laws and policies on abortion, because of his pro-life beliefs. Surprise! If you can't do your job without letting your personal beliefs interfere...RESIGN!

So ARCC and the NB Rebelles are calling for Mr. Murphy's resignation. You can read the ARCC press release, and then email Murphy at and ask him to step down. If you'd like a sample email to send, I have one all written, so just drop me a line at If you would rather call his office, the number is (506) 457-4800.

And finally, some good news! The NB Court of Appeal has FINALLY said no to the province, and Dr. Morgentaler has been granted standing to bring his suit. So....maybe a trial is in the future? This is really, really good news as it's been a long and difficult struggle to get this far. There are so many exciting possibilities from here.

That's all the news right now...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tech Updates for Feminist Nerds

The May Madness continues at the clinic. It sometimes seems ok, like when it's 8:30 and there's no protesters yet, but then they'll all come out at once and start screeching and carrying on. Yesterday Pink Hat went wild at one particular young woman, telling her "They're after your baby!" and "I can tell you don't want to do this!". God she's awful. I wonder how difficult it is for them to justify making people cry by yelling at them?

Inside the clinic, one of the patients was suffering some severe nausea as a symptom of the pregnancy, and spent most of her waiting time throwing up. I felt really bad for her. I can't even imagine suffering through that for nine whole months. Thank goodness we have SOME choice/access here.

I wonder if you noticed that I made a couple additions to my "Pedgehog Reads..." section? The first is the NB Rebelles blog. If you are at all interested, it informs people of upcoming events (not just NB Rebelles stuff, and not just Fredericton!), and it also has links to our merchandise for sale and so on. I could go on, but I don't want this to be an ad for NB Rebelles. Just check out the website and you'll get the idea.

The second addition is Confabulous, a great feminist blog based in Canada. I love a lot of feminist blogs, most notably Feministing, but I get a little sad that there's not much Canadian content. Confabulous is Canadian, and feminist, and thus it is awesome.

And, while I'm plugging stuff, I will let you know that you can follow me, NB Rebelles, and ARCC on Twitter. And you should.

The antis are holding their annual March for Life tomorrow. It should be interesting, as always. I always like to see which elected representatives are actively working against women's rights in New Brunswick.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Hi, faithful readers. Sorry I didn't blog earlier this week - I left town right after clinic on Tuesday for a brief mid-week out-of-town trip to see my grandmother: props to Nanny on her 95th birthday! Booya!

Anyway, Tuesday's clinic was pretty exciting, as far as these things go. First of all, two of our most awesome escorts (EO and AD) wore charming pink berets, in tribute to the always entertaining protester, Pink Hat. She seemed pretty peeved about it. It's always fun to find a way to poke fun at the protesters without disturbing or upsetting the patients. The only downside is having "Raspberry Beret" in my head for the rest of the day.

In between shifts, just as the last of my early shifters was leaving, I heard a loud voice as outside door was closing. I went outside to check it out; it was a dude on a motorcycle, who had pulled over to the side of the road to give the protesters a piece of his mind. He called them "terrorists", and told them they really ought to read the Supreme Court decision before they stood out there protesting (I have to say, I agree, although I don't know, maybe they have read it). He was quite angry and carried on for a while before zooming off.

Afterwards, one of the escorts mentioned that they thought he was probably the same guy who used to pull over in his silver SUV to yell at the protesters - he used some of the same language. I think it's pretty likely. His new nickname will be Old Yeller.

The protesters are, as I mentioned before, always quite riled in May, because of Mother's Day and the March for Life. On Tuesday morning they had one of their trucks in their parking lot blaring Jesus music - Amazing Grace and so on. Every week it's something new and hilarious with them.

I've talked before about the awkwardness of having someone I know come in for an abortion. Something that is quite possibly more awkward is when someone I know comes in with someone having an abortion. It's worse because I don't know beforehand like I would if they were a patient, so I'm unprepared. It happened this weekend - someone I know vaguely from high school - and I must have been more taken aback than I thought, because I knocked a whole bunch of stuff over when I was getting her friend's forms. Or maybe I'm just a clutz.

If you have bottles/recycleables, email before tomorrow, and we'll come pick 'em up!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Just Stopping By!

There was no clinic this week. The folks next door are busy as ever, though, no doubt still gearing up for the March for Life.

I won Best Reproductive Liberties Blog in the F-Word Blog Awards; thanks so much for voting for me!! I have the best readers ever. If I could figure out how to put a little badge on my blog, I could boast a little more.

Not much has happened, I just wanted to check in so y'all didn't think I was dead. Or had swine flu or something. Remember, if you find me so fascinating you can't stand our internet time apart, you can follow me on twitter. I am @pedgehog.

Hey, if you're in Fredericton, and you have some bottles/recyclables, email and we'll come get 'em for you next Saturday.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Brief Update

I am so behind on everything this week, and I really have no excuse. Oh well, TGIF. Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the F-Word awards; I believe they are announcing the winners tomorrow (the 25th).

So at the clinic this week we had a new protester. She was wearing a vry fetching cape-type garment, which is going to earn her a bat/vampire-related nickname. I'm putting a poll up on the side so you can choose. It's between Batwoman and Elvira. If you have other suggestions, let me know.

The protesters are getting all riled, which isn't really a surprise. Mother's Day is coming up, as is the annual March for Life. This time of year really brings out their charm.

I'm still working on my Plan B project, and have received some interest from CBC's Maritime Noon, which is awesome.

I had some other stuff I wanted to blog about but, as mentioned earlier, I'm behind this week, so there's some things I really have to do. I might blog again during the week though. Hold on to your butts!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Know Your Plan B

I know, I usually blog earlier in the week. I don't know, sometimes someone just needs to come light a fire under my ass about it.

Tuesday's clinic was a gong show outside, as is the norm these days. Pink Hat was agressive and awful, and the others were their usual zombie selves. It being National Volunteer Appreciation Week, I made cupcakes for my lovely volunteers. A few of them are leaving now that school is done, which is sad.

Yesterday I started on a project to find out what the availability and accessibility of Plan B is like in various pharmacies throughout the province. I've called all the pharmacies in Fredericton so far (there are over thirty, which I never would have guessed) and the price ranges from $20 to $40. Also, even though it's supposed to be available on the shelf, the majority of places still keep it behind the counter, so you have to ask for it; at some pharmacies, you have to have a "consultation" with a pharmacist before they will let you buy it.

So that was pretty unimpressive. I'm going to work through some of the other areas of the province, and then eventually we'll be able to put this info together for women who come to the clinic.

Last night I went to see Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes speak at the law school. He is an awesome gay rights activist (and Order of Canada recipient), and his speech was really fucking amazing. I just cried and cried through the whole thing. We ran into him afterwards at a bar downtown and he sat and chatted with us; he is a really cool guy. They followed up his talk with a presentation on the legal history of gay rights in Canada by Dr. Karen Pearlston, who is a kickass local activist/prof. It was a good night.

Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the F-Word blog awards. I made it through the elimination round in the Reproductive Liberties category, so please vote in the final round, which starts on the 18th at midnight and finishes on the 19th at midnight. Thanks friends!! Here are the other finalists if you are interested.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

Oh hai, just wanted to pop in and mention that I've been nominated, once again, in the F-Word Blog Awards over at A Creative Revolution. So awesome!! So if you like my blog and want to vote for me, there's two rounds of voting. The first one is going on now, until April 14th.

You can vote here. The voting is on the right side of the page, and I am nominated in two categories: Oh! Canada English, and Best Reproductive Liberties Blog (of which I am a past winner).

Thanks so much for the nomination, and for all your support!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rain and Awkward Moments

Yesterday's clinic was....wet. It was very, very rainy outside. Like, pouring. My poor escorts were quite soaked, and this week we went back to the two-shift system, so they were soaked for an hour and a half instead of an hour. We even had a new guy, GA. Luckily he had a good time anyway and is coming back. Hooray new blood!

The protesters were out as well, despite the rain. I was very disappointed to see they weren't wearing their matching yellow rainsuits; I guess they just weren't prepared. Or maybe they realized how silly they look. Regardless, they were there. Pink Beret was even wearing one of those little plastic rain hats over her pink beret. Why bother with the beret, you ask? Well, you'd have to ask her.

They were quite aggressive; the Holy Ghost had herself perched up on what remained of the snowbank, so she could yell at patients as they came in. One of the as yet un-nicknamed protesters, a lady holding a sign that said "All babies are precious" (or some equally nauseating nonsense), came up to a couple of the escorts (including the new guy) and said "How would you feel if your mother had aborted you?". Yeah. Think about that.

So it was a circus as usual. Inside, I had one of those awkward situations that I occasionally face, when someone I know comes in for an appointment. It is always a vague acquaintance, so I never really know how things are going to go down. This woman was awesome about it though; she greeted me right away with "oh! I didn't know you worked here!", and then we had a totally non-awkward discussion about how sick the pregnancy was making her. It was awesome, I love it when people are relaxed. Because really, it doesn't matter to me if someone I know is having an abortion, obviously, but I know for them it can be awkward. So, if you know me and you're ever coming in for an abortion, just a head's up that I would never violate your confidentiality, nor would I judge you.

Spring is in the air, friends. I have to hope that doesn't mean renewed vigour on the part of the protesters, but I fear that it might. On a positive note, it's lovely outside (when it isn't raining like crazy) and soon it will be time to start riding my bike again. Awesome.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

TV Abortion Fail

Clinic yesterday was ok. I am currently battling a cold so I spent most of the time blowing my nose and sanitizing my hands. Also, working. The protesters came out late but in full force, including Crazy Legs. Nothing particularly notable happened. Winter continues to engulf us.

So, I was doing some abortion-related musing that I might as well share with you all. When you work/volunteer/advocate for pro-choice orgs, you spend a lot of time thinking about abortion. At least, I do. I have analyzed the topic in pretty much every way my tiny brain can. I know last year there was a lot of talk, after Juno and Knocked Up, about how abortion is portrayed in the media. I think about that a lot.

I find it very interesting, the disparity between real-life abortion situations and TV/movie mentions of abortion. In that, it happens ALL THE TIME in real life, and ALMOST NEVER in TV and movies. It's kind of like the whole gay thing; I remember as a teenager feeling a little weirded out that I knew so many gay-identified people, and on TV they were almost always either one hilarious sidekick, or a punchline. And their defining feature was their gayness. Now, this is changing, for sure. But it's the same kind of thing; real life is not being reflected accurately.

Unwanted/unexpected pregnancies do come up a lot, because it's a super convenient plot twist that opens up all kinds of story arcs. But abortion and adoption are almost never considered, and when they are, they're dismissed for whatever reason. Now, I don't watch a huge amount of TV shows, so maybe I'm out of the loop. But when I do see it, it bothers me. Not because I think fictional characters should be having more abortions; but I think the viewer should be given more credit. I mean come on - what women, faced with an unplanned pregnancy, hasn't even CONSIDERED abortion or adoption?

This came up because I was watching Scrubs the other day and Jordan found out she was pregnant. I haven't seen enough of the show to know how the story develops, but in the episode I watched, she (and Perry, her partner) were clearly miserable about the situation. The reason for the pregnancy was a vasectomy that "didn't take", so clearly they didn't want any more kids. And yet, they spend the whole episode moping about it, and then eventually accept it, but still somewhat unhappily. There is no discussion of the alternatives. None. I know it's a comedy, but come on! He is a doctor and she is on the hospital board; it's not like they can't afford an abortion, or like they wouldn't know how to get one. WTF? Why wouldn't the show take the opportunity to at least tackle the issue; Jordan could still decide to parent in the end, and they could go ahead with whatever baby story they're shooting for.

The same thing bothered me, to a lesser extent, on Friends. When Rachel found out she was pregnant, it was so unrealistic that a woman in her position (single, career-driven, living in an apartment) wouldn't consider abortion. Not that she would have one, but that she wouldn't even consider it! Come on! And this is a show that took on surragacy - TWICE! And adoption.

I know that both these women (Jordan from Scrubs and Rachel from Friends) would most likely ultimately end up parenting, because their respective TV universes have given them what they need to do so; willing partners, strong support networks, money, etc. But both are presented as independent, intelligent and rational people; why wouldn't they think about their options?

To be clear, I don't think it would be super fantastic if people on every show were having abortions all over the place. But I feel like unexpected pregnancies happen all the time on TV (as they do in real life), and yet abortion, which happens ALL THE TIME to TONS AND TONS OF ORDINARY WOMEN is almost never mentioned as an option. I feel like this serves to further stigmatize it. Especially since it seems like when women do choose abortion in TV/movies, they either change their mind when they get in there (Juno, Sex and the City), face gloms of scary protesters (Degrassi), or it's referred to as something they did when they were young (which, admittedly, is better than nothing; at least they're talking about it).

If I watched more TV and movies, I could probably offer better analysis. It just sucks that in pop culture abortion is either a deadly serious, underground operation or...not even mentioned. Come on people. This isn't 1952. There are a lot of real women out there who would probably love to see their story reflected in the media, instead of being isolated for doing something that thousands of ordinary women do, every day.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tweet Tweet!

Yeah, yeah, I'm blogging. We had another week off last Tuesday, so of course yesterday's clinic was ever so fun and exciting! All my volunteers who said they were going to be there, were there, which never happens. So I felt pretty good about that.

The protesters, though small in numbers, are big in nuttiness. WF and I have decided that they are unfulfilled actors. Poor guys and ladies, never got to live out their Broadway dreams. I'm thinking especially of Pink Beret, with her plastic rosary and crocodile tears. She spends her protest time wandering around sprinkling salt (or dirt or something) on the ground, praying, and weeping. Her performance is probably the one thing that could ever make me convert to Catholicism.

...Speaking of Catholicism, what is up with the Catholic Church these days? I mean, normally they are pretty far down on my list of awesome patriarchal institutions, but the last ocuple months have been astounding. First the whole IWD thing, then the little girl in Brazil, and then the Pope says condoms help the spread of AIDS. WTF?

Anyway, back to the clinic. The only other regulars lately have been Peter Ryan, looking fantastically smug in his blue knit hat, and the Holy Ghost. Only Peter Ryan carries a sign. The others need their hands free, apparently, for...praying? Or whatever.

I'm on Twitter now. I don't know anything about it, so I can't really link you to it, but if you're on Twitter and you want to follow me, I'm "pedgehog". I can't imagine my life is interesting enough to follow that closely, but I like to stay in the technology loop (at least a little bit). I like it because when I'm bored I can update it from my phone, and so then people think I'm texting someone, and thus that I have friends. ;)

Spring is almost here, friends! Right?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I've Got to Admit, It's Getting Better

Ohhhh yes. Sorry I didn't blog last week. I actually meant to, even though there wasn't a clinic, but I just never got to it. It was March Break (or Reading Week or whatever) last week, but not being a student, this meant little to me. I was here a lot, working. And I was doing a lot of gumboot dance practice. But that's a whole other story.

The protesters were just crazy yesterday. Spring is in the air, I suppose. It's hard to know when they are going to suddenly be very aggressive, so we just have to be consistent and do the best we can. Our escorts were wonderful of course, and handled the situation with class. It can be pretty stressful out there with those jackasses yelling at women. And crying and praying and gnashing their teeth, etc.

I am in good spirits today because I just interviewed a new escort, and also because the Chatelaine article I was interviewed for FINALLY came out! Check it out.

I am super stoked! Publicity is always good, because people really need to know what's going on in New Brunswick. And I am so honoured to be featured with some of my best colleagues and biggest heroes in pro-choice activism; Jessica Yee, Patricia LaRue, Jessica Shaw, and others. SO AWESOME.

I was at a potluck brunch for International Women's Day this weekend, which was very heartening as there was a great turnout. I learned about some very cool groups including Birth Matters, which is a group advocating for midwifery in New Brunswick. You should definitely check them out. I was there on behalf of ARCC but also repping the NB Rebelles, as always. I met some very cool ladies (and dudes) and I got a "gig" out of it; I'm being interviewed for the CHSR FM show Barely Legal. I'll let you know when it airs; you can listen online!

So, lots of good news. Thanks JJ for sending the high-fives my way. :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kind of a Downer

Hi friends. Yesterday's clinic was a bit crazy. It gets like that here sometimes. I don't mean that in the sense of how busy it was (or wasn't, or whatever), but more in the sense of there being something in the air.

I think it's the weather. We had a huge snow storm at the end of the weekend, and woke up on Monday to what some would call a winter wonderland. And by some, I mean naive assholes who don't have to live in this ridiculous climate. SERIOUSLY! There was a lot of snow. By yesterday (Tuesday) things were back on track in terms of school being back open, and resteraunts and banks and so on. The snow doesn't just disappear though. It's all piled in snowbanks that go over my head - you can't see around them, making walking and driving a big ol' pain in the ass.

That was just my little complain-y bit for the day. As always, things were worse for the escorts; there were very few places they could stand outside to make themselves visible to patients. Also, the sidewalk on Brunswick Street wasn't plowed, so a few of the more heroic escorts shovelled a little path to the front door of the clinic. I don't know if you've ever shovelled a path through a seven-foot-tall snowbank (I haven't). It didn't look like fun.

At least the protesters had nowhere to walk.

So yeah, it was a little crazy. Nothing drastic, just the kind of things that make you think there must be something in the air. I feel like that in February, a lot. Like I really can't wait for the stupid winter to be over, and I might stab someone with a pair of scissors if it doesn't end soon. Presumably this is why March Break was invented, right? Too bad I'm stuck here in snowsville.

I'm thinking we can probably look forward to another big flood this year.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Musings on Jack and the SMU Fiasco

Hi friends. So I didn't blog last week - sorry about that. I am struggling out of my winter funk right now and trying to get back into the activism swing of things. Last week's clinic was ok; still some very vocal female protesters, which is such a nuisance. This week (ie yesterday) we didn't have clinic, so I can only hope that the protesters were out in vain. Although it isn't that cold so it's no biggie.

I went to see Jack Layton speak at the Wu Centre a couple nights ago. It was pretty good. There was a much bigger crowd than had been planned for, which was a bit annoying because no one had set up an overflow room or anticipated in the slightest that they might attract more than 150 people. Oh, Fredericton. Anyway, Jack was speaking about what to do about the economy, and looking for ideas and suggestions from us common folk. He's a good speaker and there were no nutbars or anything, so it was good.

I've got a lot of feminist stuff going on right now that I'm very excited about. There will be an International Women's Day potluck brunch here in Fredericton on March 8th - contact me if you want more details. It should be awesome; at least two groups I belong to are co-sponsoring, so I'll be there co-repping. :)

I did want to blog about the whole campus pro-life thing, at the University of Calgary, and the GAP event shut down at Saint Mary's in Halifax. I feel like it's all been blogged to death, though. And now that I sit down to write about it, I'm not sure how I feel. The first issue, of student unions refusing to fund pro-life groups on campus, seems pretty straightforward to me. Student unions are allowed to choose to fund any groups they want - that's their prerogative. Groups can still exist, but no group is entitled to funding. I'm not sure how people think this is a freedom of speech issue.

The other one is not so clear to me. In case you missed it, the horrible Centre for Bioethical Reform had a speaker go to Saint Mary's - I guess he was booked by the campus pro-life group there. Well, during his speech he was shouted down by pro-choice protesters, and things got ugly enough that the campus security/police shut the event down (it was moved to a nearby church). I feel like the police did the right thing; after all, a threat to public safety is a threat to public safety. And I believe in the protesters' right to do what they did. Free speech goes both ways, after all. I just don't know if it's what I would have done.

It makes me wonder about what the best way is to show dissent in a situation like that. Certainly their actions were good in that they got the speaker off campus. But might it have been more productive to just go to the presentation and ask some thought-provoking questions? Or some other kind of protest, like standing up and turning their backs? I don't know. I've been wondering a lot lately about effective forms of protest, and whether some things are even worth doing at all. It's kind of a depressing train of thought.

Anyway, kudos to Halifax Pro-Choice for being gutsy and representin'.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nothing much

Hi, friends. I don't have much to blog about, sadly. Nothing special happened this Tuesday. No word yet on Dr. Morgentaler's standing. The only pro-choice-related news I have is that the Chatelaine article I told you all about many months ago is finally coming out, in the April issue. So keep your eyes open for that.

I just thought I would check in and say hi. When I'm not so swamped in my personal life I would like to sit down and blog about the goings-on at the University of Calgary, but not today.

I hope you can all forgive me. :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Reflections on the anniversary - and what's next!

So, the 21st anniversary of R v. Morgentaler. I hope you are all indulging in a mid-week glass of champagne to celebrate, yes? ;) I can't help but think that this time last year I was in Ottawa, meeting amazing pro-choice activists, making new friends, and staying in a hotel room that was bigger than my apartment. And now I am cold. Just...cold.

I felt so bad for the volunteer escorts yesterday. The weather was appalling - I was frozen just walking to the clinic in the morning. They got through it though, with a combination of toe warmers and determination. I'm really hoping that it doesn't get that cold again this winter, at least not on a Tuesday. Even the protesters didn't come out until near the end of the morning, and they were so bundled I could hardly tell which was which.

It was a good clinic, though. The protesters were not only late, they were quite subdued, so all the patients made it in with no problems.

So - who is excited for the US? President Obama (eeeeeee!) has been making all kinds of exciting moves in the last week or so. Not least of all closing Guantanamo! But more specifically, repro rights stuff like rescinding the Global Gag Rule and issuing this press release on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. So awesome!! This is actually just a little teaser for the piece I'm writing for the next issue of The Activist (the ARCC newsletter), on what President Obama means to the choice movement. I am very, very excited.

I have to also say, on a totally unrelated topic, that I have recently started gumbooting with some feminist friends, and it is awesome!! I just feel very positive about it and had to share. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Catching on to this "hope" business

So I decided to wait until today to blog for the week, because it's Blog for Choice day today. I know it's American (the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade), but I'm feeling somewhat generous of spirit towards America lately so I feel ok about partaking in this.

This year's question is: What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?

First of all, let me say how awesome it is to be able to write President Obama. Again, I'm not American, but there's no denying that the decisions of the US government affect us, as they do the world. Maybe even more than the decisions of our own government, in some areas. And, idealistic as it sounds, I believe the struggles of American women for access to reproductive health care are our struggles too.

So my wish for the new US administration is that President Obama fulfills the promises he made to NARAL and Planned Parenthood during his campaign, and also that he is able to undo some of the damage done by the last administration - let's get rid of some ridiculous restrictions like making women look at ultrasounds, and parental notification laws.

Most of all, I hope President Obama is able to recognize that the abortion issue is a symptom of a larger problem. I hope he works on ensuring all children have good, comprehensive sex education. I hope he helps to make birth control free and easily accessible. I hope he puts more funding into support for single parents, daycare, prenatal care, afterschool programs. I hope Canada follows his good example.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I sure hope this new administration gets their act together and starts recognizing queer people as people. Right fucking now, please.

I am cautiously optimistic about President Obama. More optimistic than I am about our current idiot government.

Clinic on Tuesday was ok. The protesters have been very vocal lately. Maybe they know the province is going to lose their appeal, and Dr. M. is going to wipe the floor with them in court. I hope.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Case of Pedge

So yesterday's clinic was a trial run for my new three-shift system for the volunteers. It's just for the cold weather; instead of two shifts lasting an hour and a half each, I've divided it into three one-hour shifts. It means I need more escorts to be available each week, but it also means they don't have to stand out there for as long. And a half hour in the cold makes a big difference.

It seemed to work out, although three quarters of my early shift didn't show up so EO was there alone. Which definitely sucks. Unexplained absences come with the territory when coordinating volunteers, and I don't really get too hung up on it because it can happen to anyone. For the most part, the work they do is too valuable to make it really frustrating when they occasionally slip up.

I went with a couple colleagues to see the appeal yesterday - when the court granted Dr. Morgentaler standing last August to sue the province, the province appealed, so yesterday was the hearing. Or whatever you call it, I'm not that up on my law terms. It was actually streamed live on to the internet by the CBC (you can read more about that here), so that was kind of cool.

I could only stay for the first half of the hearing because I had to get to my other job, but as we were leaving during the lunch break, some journalists stopped us and asked for interviews. I'm not sure how they surmised that we were from the clinic (and ARCC), unless they recognized JB's face (or mine, I suppose). Regardless, I got to do a fun media-scrum-on-the-courthouse-steps interview, and CTV and Global both used my comments on the local news last night. There was also an article in CanWest, which you can read here.

The news (I can't remember which one) said that they would rule on it within a month, which would be awesome. I didn't get to see Henry's lawyer in action this time but I'm fairly confident that he'll be awarded standing. And then the trial....well it should be interesting, if we ever get to it. The wheels of justice turn pretty slowly.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Call to Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you,
Stephanie Fletcher