Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekly Reader

Hi friends, here are some of the things I've been reading this week.

ARCC's reaction to the "coerced abortion" bill, and another piece from JJ.

Don't forget to nominate your Women's Health Heroes!

Jessica Yee makes the connections between violence, reproductive rights and sexual health.

A new website: 45 Million Voices.

A note to older feminists.

U of C may expel anti-abortion protesters.

A late return of an Order of Canada.

International news: a pregnant ten-year-old in Mexico is trying to get an abortion.

Honouring Norma Scarborough.

WHO takes no sides in Canada's maternal health wars.

Support a documentary on abortion providers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reading the Litter-gy

Yesterday's clinic was ridiculous - there were like a thousand protesters (ok maybe more like twelve to fifteen), for no reason I can think of. Maybe because it's getting close to Mother's Day? I know that in past years they've become a bit nuttier when May draws near, so perhaps that's it.

Regardless, they were quite aggressive. Kudos to the volunteers yesterday for putting up with their garbage.

Pink Hat is still wielding her sad, broken little Jesus. She also often holds a prayer book to read while she walks and does her rosary (yes, she holds a Jesus, a prayer book and a rosary. That's why she can't have a sign). This week, her prayer book - which is almost as shabby as her Jesus - started to fall apart, and the pages blew into our parking lot. One of our escorts, LS, told her that she was littering, but Pink Hat was too busy yelling at patients to pay her any attention. So LS scooped up the pages and jammed them into her empty coffee cup, which she then brought into the clinic to throw out.

Well. The protesters immediately got together outside in a prayer huddle for like twenty minutes, and Peter Ryan came over, and they started having intense discussions that, sadly, led to no action on their part. They did become a little more aggressive towards the volunteers, of course.

Later in the morning, just after the last patient arrived and I went out to call the volunteers in, a woman pulled her car over on the side of Brunswick Street, got out, and stormed over to yell at the protesters. "I just want you to know, I really disagree with what you're doing!" They argued back and forth for a while. I know it's a public safety risk but I like when people do that; it gives me hope that there are people out there who are as angry about the protesters as we are. The escorts mentioned that the woman had a Saint Thomas University parking pass; maybe a prof at STU? Anyway, thanks Mystery Lady! You brightened our morning.

Clinic went well on the inside. A couple difficult cases, but that's the norm. One too early, one too late, some no shows - a pretty "average" clinic day, all told. No one was particularly upset or put off by the protesters, which is excellent.

Before I forget, I want to mention that Our Bodies, Ourselves is doing their annual Women's Health Heroes awards again this year. Check it out, nominate someone or just have a look at (and vote for) the nominees so far: there are some pretty cool people in the world.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The First Weekly Reader

I've decided to have a new feature on the blog: a weekly round-up of links to blogs and news stories related to abortion/reproductive justice that I've been reading during the week. A lot of what's going on in that arena is covered in the American blogs, so I want this reader to have a Canadian focus (although stuff with a more general tone is also acceptable).

Feel free to link to whatever you've been reading in comments, or if there's something you think should be included, email me with a link:

Without further ado, here's what I've been reading this week:

A piece I wrote for Abortion Gang about rocking the boat.

Joyce Arthur on the need for a positive abortion law.

Tory MP Ron Bruinooge introduced a private member's bill to protect against "coerced abortions".

A few reactions to the Bruinooge bill, including my own.

A couple more reactions to Bruinooge.

More important people siding with the US on abortion and maternal health.

For women considering abortion: you will be ok.

Let me know what you've been reading about!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Reflections on the Upcoming Summer

Yesterday was windy but sunny, a sure sign that spring is upon us. The protesters were out a little later than us. Pink Hat's little Jesus figurine, which lost a couple limbs earlier this year, has now lost his cross as well. He's just a little one-armed dude covered in blood. But Pink Hat still carries him aloft proudly. I wonder if we should all kick in to buy her a new figurine? A couple of the volunteers suggested Batman.

Nothing special on the harrassment front. Pink Hat was giving the escorts her usual advice about not blocking the sidewalk, and chastising them for not giving patients all the options. I'm not sure if they (the protesters) even realize that our escorts are solely responsible for helping patients enter the building safely; they have no part in giving (or not giving) them information or advice. I guess it's hard for the protesters to understand because they don't seem to believe in keeping their jobs separate; thus their "counsellor" (Crazy Legs) is often out protesting with the rest of them, as she was this week.

I have had to explain to a couple women who have gone to the CPC and then made an appointment with us that they might see the woman who "counselled" them out there protesting as they came for their abortion. I think that's the moment when most women who have gone next door realize what a load of bullshit they've been fed by those people. I'm not saying that a counsellor shouldn't be a protester; more that a counsellor whose job it is to help women make a decision about their pregnancy shouldn't then be outside the abortion clinic, harrassing those same women and trying to entice them next door. If Crazy Legs was actually a counsellor who was certified by a recognized group, she would definitely be facing some kind of ethics review.

At this time of year, students are finishing up and some are leaving for the summer (or forever). Among our escorts who are students, even those who are coming back in the fall will be coming back to a different volunteer coordinator, since I am leaving in August. So this week I said the first of my goodbyes, to AB, who is graduating this year so will likely not be back again (although you never know!). I feel that in the next couple weeks I will be saying a lot more goodbyes.

I am still working on ideas on how to keep this blog going when I leave. I do want to keep it as my blog, so I won't be handing it over to the volunteers or the new volunteer coordinator (although if any of them started to blog, specifically about their experiences as escorts, I would enthusiastically link to them!). I hope to get updates from the Fredericton clinic that I can post from time to time, but the direction of the blog as a whole will probably depend on what I actually end up doing in Toronto.

My partner and I got our bikes out a couple days ago. So excited for my last summer in Fredericton!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Brief Update on a No-Protester Clinic

This week's clinic started later than usual, as our doctor couldn't arrive until later. Some of the staff enjoyed a lovely breakfast together before coming to work, and when we got to the clinic there were no protesters. I had a couple escorts come in anyway, but the protesters never showed up so I sent them (the volunteers) home. Successful trickery!

It certainly is lovely to not have the protesters out there. It makes it easier to focus on the patients and to create a comfortable environment for them. I was afraid this clinic would be a little weird because we had a very young teenager coming in, but she was excellent and her grandmother was very sweet. Sometimes when you get people younger than 15 or 16 it can be a bit weird - once we had a patient who was around 12 and the whole atmosphere of the waiting room changed. But I think not having protesters is very helpful in that regard.

I hope you've all been following Abortion Gang! There are some amazing contributers - I'm pretty awestruck. I haven't written anything beyond my initial introductory post, but I hope to do a piece in the next week or so. I have no excuse for being so slow with my internet participation lately; the warm weather just makes me not want to be sitting or writing.

I will try, though. :)