Friday, March 30, 2012

How to Deal with the Impending Woodworth Ridiculousness

Ok let's face it: it is about to get ridiculous up in here. Woodworth is going to introduce his motion, and our government is going to seriously debate it like it's some kind of valid suggestion about human rights, and not a thinly-veiled misogynistic attempt to read The Handmaid's Tale like a how-to guide to governance. We are going to have to sit through this bullshit. So here's what you do.

Grab an egg, a tablespoon of Nutella, a tablespoon of flour, half a teaspoon of baking powder, a teaspoon of cocoa, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Mix it all together in a bowl or a big mug. Stick it in the microwave for two minutes. Let it sit for five minutes. Eat it.

Now put your feet up and relax for a day or two. Because you need your strength - shit's about to get real.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekly Reader

Here's what I've been reading about this week:

Anti-choice protesters are harassing women in Montreal

All together now: we DON'T need a debate

Knit some uteruses tomorrow in Calgary and join the Womb Swarm

Let's keep talking about how there's no abortion services on PEI - and what we can do about it!

Abortion is still under attack in Canada

Counter arguments against Stephen Woodworth's motion, and Heather Mallick's take

This amazing woman's naked protest against the GAP at UBC is AWESOME!

What have you been reading?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Profound Simplicity of Trusting Women: A Response to Margaret Somerville

[Trigger warning for sexual assault]

You may have heard or read my feelings about Margaret Somerville, the well-known Canadian ethicist, before. I first encountered her views in the book of her Massey lecture, The Ethical Imagination. I have been frustrated by both her views and her unquestioned platform for them ever since.

Today Somerville has an op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen entitled "The profound complexities of informed consent to abortion". In it she details the experiences and feelings of a young woman, Anna (not her real name), who had an abortion that she didn't want and now feels guilty about. Somerville uses her story as an example of why pre-abortion counselling needs to be independent of abortion clinics, which she characterizes as a "for-profit undertaking" as if she is ignorant of how hard Dr. Morgentaler himself is fighting to have this service covered under Medicare. It is quite clear that she is implying that abortion providers (including clinic staff and counsellors) are in it for the money, or have some kind of quota. If Somerville spent one day in an abortion clinic or hospital providing abortion in Canada, particularly in the Maritimes, she would know that there is no need to convince women to have abortions - providers are, in fact, struggling to keep up with the demand.

But there is no need for me to further rebut an argument that wasn't explicitly made, when there is so much crap just right out in the open. I would expect an ethicist to be skilled in logic to some extent, but there seems to have been no effort on Somerville's part to come to the logical conclusion that one woman's bad experience with abortion does not and will not ever justify taking the option away from everyone.

Sometimes Somerville comes close to the right answers - she believes that Anna was not able to access the support she needed to continue the pregnancy and have a baby, which is a big reason why many women choose to terminate their pregnancies. Instead of identifying the support needed as non-judgemental counselling, affordable pre-natal care, free and accessible daycare and childcare, parental leave, etc., Somerville can only suggest "[...] easy access to free counselling independent of abortion facilities." Uh-huh. Leaving aside the concern that this will just leave more room to coerce and frighten women out of having abortions, just who is going to pay for this service? The same government that is so eager to cover abortions and all the support for pregnant women mentioned earlier? I bet.

The rest of the article involves consent - Anna did not feel she was listened to at the clinic, she asked to see her ultrasound and was denied, and gave her consent to the procedure while crying, and only because she felt that she had been worn down to the point that resisting would be futile. It sounds like Anna was treated very poorly by clinic staff, and that makes me more angry than I know how to express, and it makes my heart hurt for her. It is never easy nor fun to undergo surgery, and the added terror of a lack of full consent is unimaginably scary. Women deserve better.

To shift what happened to Anna on to the issue of abortion, however, is like being sexually assaulted by a doctor performing a breast exam on you and then trying to use that as a reason to oppose breast exams. The abortion wasn't the problem here. The same thing could have happened to Anna were she having any elective surgery - the problem is the way she was treated. I do agree with Somerville that informed consent to medical procedures is something that needs work in this country, but I can say with certainty that it will continue to be an issue regardless of the legal status of abortion services.

Doctors and nurses need more time to spend with patients. Counsellors need more time to spend with patients. Sometimes it can be a struggle to get through everything you need to get to in fifteen minutes with a patient (most abortion clinic counsellors don't even get that long), especially if you have to spend half of that time dealing with their trauma from the sidewalk harassment they experienced coming in. Clinic managers need more money and time to hire and train competent staffers, and to pay them sufficiently. The whole damn medical system needs to be overhauled, in my opinion, but until then we need to be spending more government money on making things better for patients than we are on denying them the services they need through laws and regulations.

What happened to Anna has nothing to do with the legality of abortion - in fact, if abortion was not legal I'm pretty sure things would have been a lot worse for her. What happened to Anna happened because we live in a country where those in charge do not trust or care about women, and the people who are supposed to help women are too overworked and underpaid to do so sufficiently.

I hope that Anna is able to find some peace with her decision, and some counselling for her trauma. And I hope Margaret Somerville some day gets her shit together and learns what an ethicist does.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekly Reader

Hey everyone, sorry for not writing a post this week - my mother was visiting, and then I went to Niagara Falls for the weekend! But don't forget to donate to the campaign to support PRRO and help bring abortion access to PEI!

Here's some stuff I've been reading this week...

Woodworth will be getting his abortion debate in April

Check out the hashtag

Let's not re-open the abortion debate

Maybe you might want to send your used menstrual products to Stephen Woodworth?

An anti-choice group hosts an abortion debate at UBC

What have you been reading about?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Weekly Reader

Hi everyone, here's what I've been reading about this week:

Contraception, abortion and Limbaugh: a Canadian weighs in

Coming out for reproductive justice

The Active-8 campaign ended in a tie; a really classy move on ACIC's part

Don't forget to check out our campaign to match the $1000 prize

What have you been reading?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Let's Match It!

Hey so, perhaps you are wondering what that little widget was in my previous post. Well folks, as you may have heard, the ACIC did the classy thing and, because the votes were so close, they awarded first place of the Active-8 campaign to Tara and Kandace!

So, I know I said that I would raise the $1000 for PRRO if Kandace did not win the competition, because it was unfairly sabotaged by anti-choice meanies. However, even though she did win, I did get a lot of support and enthusiasm for the idea so I thought, well why not? And now we are going to match Kandace's $1000 prize, and raise $1000 for the PEI Reproductive Rights Organization to continue their fight to bring abortion access to the Island.

If every person who pledge their support of Kandace throws in $1, we will easily reach our goal. And for those of you who missed your chance to support her with a pledge, here's your opportunity!

Please donate what you can, and spread the word through your networks. Let's let PEI know that we are paying attention, and that choice means access.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekly Reader

Hey everyone! Here's what I've been reading about this week:

More on sex-selective abortion in Canada

Woodworth is still a douchebag

Being child-free is not morally wrong! Did you know?

A pro-choice call to action

Two overviews of abortion in Canada

Graphic anti-abortion postcards are being sent out in Calgary

What have you been reading?

Friday, March 2, 2012

We Was Robbed!

Hey so remember how I wrote a couple times about Kandace Hagen and the Active-8 campaign? (Of course you do, you read and memorize all the shit that I write). Well the contest closed on Wednesday and it looks like a last minute post on LifeSite (no I am not linking to that bullshit) pulled it through for Tara - or should I say against Kandace, because none of these assholes give a shit about Tara's cause (which is about intellectual disabilities and is pretty inspiring stuff, just FYI) and were only trying to shut down a young woman's push for better access to HEALTHCARE (abortion is healthcare, you guys!) on PEI. Fuck.

Anyway, the results have not officially been announced yet. It looks like Tara won though, so congratulations, and I'm sorry that your awesome and well-deserved victory had to be tarnished by a bunch of childish spoilsports who used you as a pawn to achieve the questionable political goal of making sure a young activist didn't get $1000. Fuck them, both you (Tara) and Kandace are awesome.

I want to say that I was not bullshitting when I said that if Kandace doesn't win, I will personally raise $1000 to donate to her activist work/the PRRO. As soon as ACIC announces the official winner, I will be in contact with Kandace, and set up a way for you all to make a donation. And there will probably also be some creative way to convince other cool folks to contribute, so put your thinking caps on, because I'm going to need your help (I am not super creative). 

Anyway watch this space, because we are going to get Kandace $1000 and then maybe blow raspberries at PEI Right to Life because some of us (ie me) are not super mature. Hooray!