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 email@example.com.
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?