Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekly Reader

Aargh, I forgot about blogging yesterday - I was too busy getting in internet arguments about violent resistance. Don't start with me either, because I will throw bricks through your windows! Anyway, here's what I've been reading this week:

It's all about the G8 maternal health stuff this week: the media won't let the abortion question die. And neither will the public. There have been several polls done, all indicating that the majority of Canadians favour international access to safe abortion.

More groups and organizations called for a comprehensive maternal health plan, as did former Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Protesters at the G8/G20 demanded rights for women and girls. Quebec unanimously passed a motion calling for the right to free access to abortion, and everyone from Vicki Saporta (of NAF) to the Abortioneers weighed in on the maternal health initiative.

Things have not been looking great for Stephen Harper. But it's possible he will come out smelling like roses in the end.

What have you all been reading?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Comings and Goings

Clinic was great this week because I had THREE new volunteers. Three! And they are all awesome and enthusiastic and I just love them. I've been worried in the last couple weeks about leaving this job behind, and I want to make sure whoever replaces me has a big pool of volunteers to work with, so this was definitely reassuring.

It wasn't a gong show like last week, so that was good. Monochrome has been out a lot lately, all dressed in red as usual. And Crazy Legs has been more active. This week a patient parked in the CPC parking lot by accident, so one of the escorts (KM) walked over to escort her to the clinic. As soon as she got there Crazy Legs told her she wasn't allowed to be on the property, and then threatened to sue her. This was in between chasing patients all over the place. She is a piece of work, that woman. Professional counsellor, at that.

Our doctor was away this week, so we had our back-up doc who flies in from Halifax. We were already starting later than usual, because we had to wait for her flight to arrive and for JB to pick her up at the airport. But then the flight was delayed until 11:00am, which was when our last appointment was arriving. Which means we had a waiting room full of patients. Luckily our back-up doc is quick, on top of being a generally awesome person. So we were only there a couple hours later than usual, and she caught her flight back in time. Sometimes you have to put up with a crowded waiting room.

I can't believe I only have five clinic days left here! I am so, so excited to be leaving Fredericton but I'm also a little sad to be leaving the clinic, which is by far the best job I've ever had. I work with a really lovely staff and amazing volunteers.

I guess this blog was pretty short, but hey, I can't help it if the protesters are (mostly) behaving themselves. I guess things will pick up a little if Crazy Legs really does decide to sue us. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekly Reader

Not many stories this week, friends.

More coverage of the protest in Montreal.

An old story but one I missed: a leaked memo says individual countries will have leeway on abortion funding in the maternal health package.

MPs call for abortion coverage in the maternal health initiative, as does the ACPD.

Two articles about our clinic: the NB Media Co-op did a piece on the need for more escorts, and the Globe and Mail covered the problems with abortion access, specifically in the Maritimes.

What have you all been reading?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sneak Attack

Clinic was pretty nuts this week. I found out the day before that there would be a reporter from the Globe and Mail coming to check things out - she is writing a piece on abortion access in the Maritimes (I will let you know when it is printed - should be pretty soon). So she came to observe the protesters and escorts, to interview some of them and the clinic staff (me included), and to see if any of the patients would talk to her. A couple of them did, which is awesome. I know it is probably really hard for people to open up about their abortion, especially on the day it is happening, so the reporter was lucky that some women felt comfortable enough to do so.

What I did not know was that the reporter had apparently called NB Right to Life (ie the protesters) the day before to check if they would be out protesting. So of course they rounded up the troops and we had a LOT of protesters out! Which is good from the perspective of the story, in that people will get to see how ahful it can be out there, but bad because the women coming in that day had to deal with the extra people, and it's more work for our escorts.

The result was that we saw some people we haven't seen out protesting in a while, like Peter Ryan, and the Mad Chatter with her "I Regret My Abortion" sign. She is a truly mean-spirited and hateful person, you guys. Just awful. And we had some new protesters as well who I am sure we will never see again. A couple young women, which NEVER HAPPENS. Also a guy wearing a t-shirt that said "Abortion kills children" or some such nonsense. Apparently he came from Moncton. It does lighten my heart a little that even when they put the call out, they can't even get enough people from Fredericton and they have to also bring people in from Moncton and Saint John. And the average age is still I would guess around 55.

They were stepping up the shenanigans, too. There were the usual comments to the escorts (apparently they "only care about women having abortions"), but this week there were also BABIES. Yes, real babies, in strollers, being pused back and forth on the sidewalk outside the clinic. It was, in the words of our counsellor, truly tacky. What really frustrates me about "arguments" like that (if you can count flaunting your baby as an argument) is it totally discounts class and health and financial issues that often go into the choice to terminate a pregnancy. It's all very well to flaunt your healthy white baby around and implicitly promise women that this is what they are giving up, but just because you are privileged enough to be able to keep your baby and support her and feed her and not be judged for your family situation, class, addiction, financial situation, sexual orientation, race, health, and on and on, doesn't mean the rest of us have that luxury.

Anyway, the protesters are jerks. I hope that's the conclusion the reporter reaches too. Regardless, my volunteers are awesome and deserve kudos for putting up with all that bullshit.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekly Reader

Here's what's been happing in Canada this week:

The news is mostly about the maternal health initiative. Harper screwed up a lot: his beliefs continue to jeopardize the lives of women internationally; he missed an important summit on women's health; he isn't super popular when he is there; and he went against the experts when forming the policy. And it's not just a danger to women's lives; it's also endangering Canada's international reputation.

So Bev Oda is pretty oblivious, and she thinks Canada is doing pretty well. But Keith Martin says people think we suck! Luckily, he has a few ideas for what the maternal health initiative should be. It's a good thing, because two more organizations have come out in support of a comprehensive plan.

In non-G8 news, I found this piece amusing as the author doesn't seem to know anything about charity or who funds abortions.

200 people attended a pro-choice rally in Montreal.

There's a new pro-choice blog in town: The Abortion Monologues! Check it out.

And, not explicitly related to abortion, but an excellent read on American exceptionalism that I enjoyed.

What have you all been reading this week?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Short and Sweet

Hello lovely readers. A lot of stuff is happening in my life right now (mostly good stuff!), which makes me disinclined to blog at length about abortion, so this will likely be brief.

Tuesday's clinic was not too bad. Crazy Legs was out and doing a bit more actual harrassment than she usually does, to the delight of all (haha). The protesters have gone back to their tactic of wandering way down the street, almost to the intersection of Brunswick and Carleton, with their signs. I'm not sure what they are trying to accomplish, except maybe intercepting patients before the escorts have a chance to greet them. It's not a very effective strategy as most patients come in cars, and have their drivers drop them off behind the clinic.

I saw Pink Hat at a wedding I was attending on Saturday. It was kind of weird. Mostly because she wasn't dressed up at all - she was wearing the exact same clothes she normally wears (including the hat!). She was also sitting on her own near the back and she wasn't at the reception, so I wonder if she was even invited? Maybe she was just going to church and wandered in. I hope she wasn't offended that I did a Bible reading.

So that's it. You should check out this interview I did for Feminists for Choice.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Weekly Reader

Ok friends, time for ye olde round-up.

The awesome feminists of the Abortion Caravan are worried about the state of reproductive rights in Canada right now. Great article, but the last quote made me want to scream.

A letter in our local paper in support of abortion access.

Canada is ready to spend $1 billion on maternal health internationally.

My hero, Jessica Yee, on reproductive justice for Aboriginal women.

Something that pro-choice activists have been saying for years is suddenly a revolutionary idea when it comes from Catholic men.

Margaret Somerville continues to annoy me.

An anti-abortion activist fails to get bail.

Yet another opinion piece supporting the inclusion of abortion in the maternal health package. Oh, and apparently now we're supposed to care what Christy Turlington Burns thinks about maternal health.

International news: Women in north Italy will be paid to NOT have abortions.

Two awesome things: the SOGC has launched a new online and mobile app that helps you determine if you are pregnant; and, you should donate to Trust Women PAC to help protect abortion providers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

It was a gloomy day on Tuesday, rainy and kind of cold. So the protesters didn't show up very early, and it was clear that the weather (or something else maybe, I don't know their lives) had dampened their spirits. Poor Pink Hat's hair is not suited to the wet weather, and it was a surprise to see her not only sans her trademark hat, but with a frizzy white 'fro.

Not much to report on as the clinic went smoothly and the volunteers braved the elements. We had a staff meeting after the clinic and several of the nurses expressed gratitude for the presence of the escorts. One of our nurses said she thinks their job is harder than hers. I think in some ways maybe that's true. Anyway, volunteers: know your work is greatly appreciated and needed! You guys are awesome.

If you live in Fredericton and are around the clinic sometimes you might have noticed the new signs in our windows. We used to have stop sign shaped ones that said "stop blame", "stop shame" and "stop intimidation". We recently took those down and put new ones up that are a bit softer and create a more welcoming atmosphere. They have a flower motif and say "shame-free zone", "blame-free zone" and "intimidation-free zone". I really like them because not only do they address what the protesters do, but they also provide a visual reminder of the values we (the clinic staff) hold in our work. It has been an uphill battle for me to learn to trust women to make decisions about their bodies and not to judge their reasoning, but it is something that is so important in the work that I do. It is as easy now as putting myself in someone else's shoes: I make mistakes (sometimes really stupid ones). But I would be afraid to call to make an appointment because I would think someone would judge me. But we all fuck up, and we all deserve love and understanding and a second chance. I keep that in mind with every patient who comes in.

We also have a stand-up sign that goes outside, which helps to identify us and also to distinguish us from the right to life people next door. Hopefully it will help in reducing the number of people who accidentally go next door by mistake, or who drive or walk right by us. Let me know if you have feedback on the signs - we would love to know what people think!