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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ten Ways to Support Choice

Here are 10 ways to support choice. Although some specifically mention the Calgary Pro-Choice Coalition, (forgive me, but I live in Calgary) they pretty much apply everywhere in Canada, so I hope this gives you some ideas. Please feel free to add more ideas in the comments. All are welcome and this is, by no means, a comprehensive list.

1.      Get Informed. It’s pretty hard to speak about your beliefs at the best of times, but when your beliefs are understood by a few people to be controversial, it’s sometimes even harder. One thing that makes it easier is getting good information and knowing a few facts – like most Canadians are pro-choice, that about one third of all women have an abortion at some time in their reproductive lives, and that most women who have an abortion are already mothers. To get really well informed, look at sites like the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. They have short, easy to understand answers to most of the questions and arguments that are made about and against abortion. Check out their “On the Issues” section at http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/ontheissues.html. Check out some good pro-choice blogs and keep on top of the issues.

2.      Challenge anti-choice misinformation. In the newspaper, in the classroom, at dinner, at a party, everywhere. When you hear it, challenge it. Again, remember most people agree with you.

3.      Speak openly about it. Stigma around abortion keeps many pro-choice people quiet. Abortion, like anything to do with sexuality, is too often shamed. Speaking openly about it reduces the stigma. Lead by example and provide others with an opportunity to join the conversation. If you don’t like speaking in groups, you can express your ideas in lots of ways – write a story, a play, a comic book (see www.thinkprochoice.com) take some photographs (see www.arts4choice.com) or paint a picture. However you do it, speak up.

4.      When you see an anti-choice article or letter to the editor in the paper, write back. Don’t let it go unchallenged. Say your side. Some papers (especially in Calgary) seem to be a bit fixated on the abortion issue and tend to be anti-choice. Don’t be afraid to weigh in.

5.      Contact your provincial MLA and your federal MP to tell them that you are pro-choice, you expect them to protect a woman’s right to choose and that you believe abortion must remain fully funded.

6.      Demand improved accessibility. Contact your local hospital if they don’t perform abortions and request that they do. Contact your MP and demand that abortion be made available to all women no matter what their location is in Canada. The issue goes beyond Canada. Right now, Canada offers foreign aid through the Maternal Health Initiative that is intended to save women’s lives but the MHI does not include funding for abortion. Write to your MP and ask for this important life saving procedure to be funded.

7.      Donate funds to pro-choice organizations like the National Abortion Federation’s Patient Assistance Fund. This money goes to help women who incur costs they can’t afford in order to travel to a clinic and stay overnight at a motel.

8.      “Like” the Calgary Pro-Choice Coalition’s Facebook page and encourage your friends to “Like” it too. There’s power in numbers. Checking the page is a good way to know if there is an initiative underway that you might be able to participate in.

9.      Demand that your school provide unbiased, comprehensive sexuality education. If you are in University, demand that your medical school includes abortion training as a mandatory subject. Consider joining Medical Students for Choice or FIRE at the University of Calgary.

10.  Most importantly, don’t take your right to choose for granted. Right now, there are people in Canada who want to take that away from you. Don’t let them do it.

The Abortion Monologues is available for purchase at www.abortionmonologues.com

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