Thursday, February 27, 2014

Summer is not so far away...

Wishful thinking? February really does drag on, doesn't it? Anyway, there are two very interesting looking but very different conferences happening in August that you should know about:

1. Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution

An international conference being hosted at UPEI, this endeavour is very ambitious in its scope and should attract an interesting mix of academics and activists. From the website:

In recent years, there have been numerous attempts worldwide to limit women’s access to safe abortion.  In 2012, an anti-abortion bill in the Canadian parliament that purportedly aimed to open a discussion on “when life begins” was interpreted as an attack on abortion rights and was defeated by Members of Parliament in a vote of 203 to 91.  In Ireland that same year, Savita Halappanavar was denied an abortion, even though she was miscarrying the fetus. Her subsequent death sparked international outrage and renewed calls to relax abortion restrictions in that country.  In Texas in 2013, despite an inspiring eleven-hour filibuster by Senator Wendy Davis, Democrats ultimately failed to block stringent new restrictions on abortion availability in that state.  Meanwhile, the Mexico City Policy continues to affect the abortion experiences of women throughout the world. Thus, in spite of the many gains that have been made in women’s rights since the mid-twentieth century, reproductive autonomy continues to elude women in many countries around the world. Even in Canada, where there is no federal abortion law and abortion is regulated like any other medical procedure, there is tremendous disparity in access to abortion services across the country. For example, Prince Edward Island is touted by the Canadian anti-abortion movement as being a “life sanctuary” since it eliminated access to safe surgical abortions in 1986,  a point that was a focus of that movement’s national conference in 2013.  Attendees are invited to PEI to reflect on the status of abortion internationally.

Full disclosure: I am presenting at this conference (on restrictions to access in New Brunswick).

The conference is August 7-8 at UPEI in Charlottetown.  Early bird registration is $85 for students/income challenged, and $145 for salaried/employed and faculty. Register here.

2. YoniFest

This is not actually a conference, more of a gathering/festival focused on birth culture - along with workshops, YoniFest promises burlesque, music and dance, and a "village spirit". From the website:

YoniFest is an international festival organized by YONI, a non-profit organization committed to questioning birth culture today. YONI has faith in intuitive and instinctive ways of knowing. YONI creates spaces in which to question, reflect on, express and manifest the sacred quality of birth and the capacity of women to birth their baby and placenta by themselves. We celebrate the universal power of women and babies and their right to be born in dignity and security.

The festival is being held in Coaticook, Quebec, August 1-3. Early bird registration includes camping onsite and is $300, or $225 for students. Register here.

Also they are still accepting proposals for workshops until March 1 (this Saturday!) so if you have an idea, you can pitch it here.

See you this summer!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

R.I.P Dr. Garson Romalis

I know I'm a bit late on this, but I didn't know Dr. Romalis and don't have a lot to say, except to give my sympathies to his family and friends.

From the Globe and Mail obituary:

Motivated by his stint in Chicago and an earlier case involving the abortion-related death of a Vancouver woman, Dr. Romalis, who loved nothing better than delivering babies, was among the first in Canada to provide legal abortions after the law was liberalized in 1969. Dr. Romalis’s unwavering commitment to what he believed was a quick, harmless way to improve a woman’s life almost cost him his own life – twice.
Read the rest here.

Thank you for your dedication, Dr. Romalis. Rest in peace.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Signal Boosting: Abortion Access on PEI, TV Show About Abortion Clinic

Ok two things that I've been slow on the uptake about, but really want to signal boost if I can:

1. Colleen MacQuarrie (UPEI) has released her research on how the lack of abortion services on PEI directly and negatively affect women's health. Obviously there is a lot to say about this but I really think Dr. MacQuarrie's research speaks for itself. From the abstract:

All participants have experienced multiple barriers and have witnessed blocked access to abortion. The access to abortion was described as a maze of multiple paths leading to dead ends, barriers, and delayed access but participants in the project somehow found a way to end the pregnancy. Some were forced to leave the province, others tried to self induce by their own hand or with the help of boyfriends and others used medical abortion; however without local surgical termination, this choice in at least one case resulted in maltreatment in the local emergency room. Some women were forced to continue the pregnancy, give birth, and parent against their will. All participants documented various harms to health in the maze of trying to access abortion services in PEI.
You can read the whole report here.

2. When I worked at an abortion clinic, my friends would always say there should be a TV show about it; at the time I couldn't imagine any aspect of my life being interesting enough to be on TV, but given the growing interest in what other people's jobs are like, and the ever-polarizing "debate" around abortion, a nuanced view of an abortion clinic could be just what the public needs to see.

So if that is something that interests you, I recommend you support this pilot for such a show - watch the clip below, imagine it with higher production values, and then click here to donate to their fundraising campaign.