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Monday, October 25, 2010

A Note to the Right Wing Doctor

Spoiler: The following is not about abortion, at least not directly.

I'm sitting in the specialist's office today, giving a ride to a friend (ah, the old "friend" story, but seriously, it was not for me) and rifling through old magazines while she is in seeing her doctor. I find something called "The Philadelphia Trumpet." The headlines are a little odd. I pick it up and begin perusing. I cannot begin to describe my surprise. Apparently, homosexual marriages in California are bringing the end times, China is a menace, (and there are reasons to be concerned about Germans too!) the earth is 6000 years old, evolution is a theory for crackpots (did you know that evolutionists claim dinosaurs and birds are related? How ridiculous! Anyone can see that dinosaurs are incapable of flight) and Proposition 8 is proof that the liberal, homosexual Supreme Court judges are in flagrant disregard of the Constitution and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

I flip to the back to see who this magazine subscription belongs to, and sure enough, it is my friend's doctor.

What to do? I write a letter, on the front of the magazine. This is what it says:

"Dear Doctor,

I am astonished to find this magazine in your waiting room, a magazine of right wing extremists and religious zealots, a magazine that espouses racism, claims evolution is a lie and that homosexuals do not deserve human rights. I expect my doctor to be both scientific and respect the human rights of all people, regardless of their differences. Because of this magazine, I feel both threatened and insecure about this visit."

Inside the magazine, I begin to scribble. On the article about China, I write, "Why is China a menace but America is benevolent?" On the article about Proposition 8, I write in huge block letters, "Lesbians and Gays raise families too." On the article about evolution, I can barely stop writing, and among other things write, "This is an object lesson in the perils of home schooling." On the subscription form, which advertises that this magazine will arrive free to anyone who subscribes, I write, "Who would pay for it?" My scribbling ends with the end of my friend's visit.

This raises the issue, can you trust a doctor that a) believes this, b) subscribes to this and c) hasn't got the sense to keep her extremist views away from her patients? Is her practice of medicine affected by her values?

I say, yes, it is. I advise my friend to seek another opinion. Can you imagine if this were an ob/gyn and you came for advice on an unintended pregnancy? Holy Fire and Brimstone.

Or, should we be happy that she's "out there" with her extreme views so we can choose to navigate away from her and find a medical practitioner who is not anti-science, not anti-homosexual, not anti-Chinese, ant-German etc.? I say, yes, to that too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Conservatives chip away at Women's Rights

Have a look at this great article in Walrus by Sylvia Bashevkin about how the tories have eroded women's rights during their reign. In part, it has been through overt measures such as the evisceration of Status of Women Canada disguised as fiscal necessity. More often, it is through private members bills like the upcoming C-510. Do what you can to nip this one in the bud. Write your letters. Remember, second reading is approaching fast.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Through a set of circumstances that I still don't quite understand, I was a reader at Wordfest this year in Calgary. I find myself in rooms with the likes of Yann Martel and Jane Urquhart and wonder how this happened. But here I am, or have been, for the past several days, talking and mostly not talking about my work.

Thanks Wordfest, and thanks to the many writers who were gracious and welcoming to me.

I was not reading from the Monologues. I read a short story recently published ini FreeFall magazine, a literary magazine from Alberta. It is a story about a woman who runs into a deer on the highway, a very Canadian story indeed. I think that I feel like the deer right now. I hope things turn out better for me than they did for the deer in my story.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Situation at Carleton University (no, not THAT "Situation")

If you're unfamiliar with the recent arrests of anti-choice protesters at Carleton University, read this from the dreaded National Post.

Now, of course, they quote Sommerville. Again, they don't mention she is an anti-choicer. But as I often do, I digress. Everyone here misses what I see as the central point, even the people I agree with. I will quote from a letter I just sent to Carleton, congratulating them on having these students arrested.

"The 'Genocide Awareness Project' creates fear. It succeeds in creating fear because the implied violence of the display is supported by the actual violence perpetrated by sympathizers of this position, specifically the people who murder doctors. Like school yard bullies who need only throw one punch to solidify their position as a credible threat, this group depends on this actual violence to create its climate of fear."

This letter, by the way, was accompanied by a cold hard cash donation, directed to Women's Studies and given in the memory of Dr. Tiller. Sometimes, it's important to back up words with cash.

These students are not engaged in a "peaceful protest." This is not an "educational campaign." It is a campaign that creates fear, is intended to intimidate and succeeds in intimidating because their sympathizers kill doctors.

Now, if the perpetrators of this display want to say this isn't hate speech and claim it is free speech, whatevs. That's a court battle I can't afford. But this is a university for goodness sakes. Although I personally have no problem with them being arrested, I would genuinely prefer that the universities go after these haters on the basis of science and fact. Their claims about post abortion trauma are completely discredited, as are their various other attempts to link abortion to everything from cancer to infertility. I certainly wouldn't be the first to suggest the images are not real, if I were to make that suggestion, but I'm not suggesting that here because these people sue anyone who dares question them. (Sort of puts the whole free speech gambit in the garbage bin, doesn't it?) So use your science, use your logic, use your incredible gift of education to expose them for what they are. I expect no less from a University.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Iowa City performance of The Abortion Monologues, November 6 & 7

Many thanks to The Emma Goldman Clinic, who is producing The Abortion Monologues.

For more information, contact The Emma Goldman Clinic
227 N. Dubuque Street, Iowa City, IA 52245

Bill C510 banning "coerced abortion" due for second reading November 1

Bill C510 was introduced on April 15 by anti-choice Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South), who chairs the secretive Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus. It seeks to amend the Criminal Code to prohibit coerced abortions. It's a patronizing, pathetic ruse, and another anti-choice end run around the facts.

Look at the link to a press release from Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada on the issue, which suggests, somewhat tongue in cheek, that what we really need is a law banning forced childbirth. I think we should take the tongues out of our cheeks though, because women are coerced every day into pregnancy and childbirth, by everyone from well meaning mothers who are anxious to be grandmas to governments offering baby bonus cheques. There is a lot of pressure to have babies. What is more enigmatic than the childless woman in our culture?

But seriously, the list of all the problems with the bill in this press release is a good one and can form the basis of any letter you may wish to send to your MP, the Prime Minister and the leaders of the opposition parties. That's what cut and paste is for. Save time, and support women's right to choose. And remember, after having used the resources of ARCC for your advocacy that membership is only $20 annually.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Forty Days of Lies - Advice for anti-choice protesters

Or, Forty Days of Harrassment. Whichever you prefer. I offer another little tidbit from SW, who found some advice for the anti-choice protesters. It is from the Bible, of all places. I know, you never thought you'd see a quotation from the Bible here in the heart of my blog.  But I think it's important to speak to people in a language they understand.

This goes out to all you protesters.  "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." (Matthew 6:1-6)

The Myth of Post Abortion Syndrome - debunked AGAIN!

As all six of you who read this blog know, the attempt by anti-choicers to market some fabrication of theirs called post abortion syndrome is one of my pet peeves. Thanks to SW, I just read a fantastic article debunking it again. I'd like to say "once and for all," but we know those anti-choicers don't care much for science. But for those of you who need some ammunition, take a look at an article in Bioethics by E.M. Dadlez and William L. Andrews called, "Post-Abortion Syndrome: Creating An Affliction." (See Bioethics ISSN 0269-9702 (print); 1467-8519 (online) Volume 24 Number 9 2010 pp 445–452). I know. I'm almost a year late on this one, but it is as relevant today as it was last year. 

Here's a link to the abstract if you need help getting it or want to buy it or do whatever we have to do to access it.

"The contention that abortion harms women constitutes a new strategy employed by the pro-life movement to supplement arguments about fetal rights. David C. Reardon is a prominent promoter of this strategy. Postabortion syndrome purports to establish that abortion psychologically harms women and, indeed, can harm persons associated with women who have abortions. Thus, harms that abortion is alleged to produce are multiplied. Claims of repression are employed to complicate efforts to disprove the existence of psychological harm and causal antecedents of trauma are only selectively investigated. We argue that there is no such thing as post-abortion syndrome and that the psychological harms Reardon and others claim abortion inflicts on women can usually be ascribed to different causes. We question the evidence accumulated by Reardon and his analysis of data accumulated by others. Most importantly, we question whether the conclusions Reardon has drawn follow from the evidence he cites.

Excellent. The full article is well worth the read.