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A Report on Abortion Services in Ontario

11 Nov

A few weeks ago, Echo: Improving Women’s Health in Ontario. (an agency of the provincial government), released a report on the state of abortion access in the province. A detailed copy of the report has been posted by the Institute of Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode. 

Key findings:

1. Abortion is a safe procedure in Ontario. Abortion procedures performed at lower gestational age lowers the complication rate, making timely access to abortion services essential.

2. Research shows that high quality abortion services must be readily available to support women’s reproductive health. When women are able to make safe choices regarding their sexual and reproductive health, they are more likely to participate equally in social, political and economic life.

3. The Ontario abortion system is fragile. Abortion services are shifting from a model that relied on hospitals to one that relies on specialized clinics and private physician offices (PPOs). The current abortion system is poorly understood and is dependent upon a relatively small group of providers. Hospitals must remain core providers in the system and provide back-up support to the clinics and PPOs.

4. Access to abortion services can be difficult and access is not equitable across Ontario, primarily due to a complex and fragmented system. A centralized source of information regarding how to access services that support women’s choices needs to be available.

5. Health care professionals have a duty to operate in alignment with legal and ethical frameworks that identify obligations regarding confidentiality, respectful behaviour and full disclosure of pregnancy options and choices to their patients. When women are not referred to abortion service providers, it can cause barriers in accessing an abortion provider and receiving a timely procedure or intervention putting the woman at increased risk.

Now, can we all finally agree that abortion is health care?

Rally for Abortion Rights Tomorrow

21 Oct

As some of you may know, Campaign Life Coalition Youth is organizing a “protest,” since they don’t believe that women deserve publicly funded health care.

More details are here.

A Pro-Life Voice That I Can Listen To

8 Jul

Today, I received a very interesting and thought-provoking e-mail from a person who knew Mary Wagner, (a more than willing candidate for pro-life martyrdom, it seems),  from her time as an undergraduate at the University of Victoria.

However, what is more remarkable about the message was that the person is pro-life, but s/he very well illustrates the common ground that the pro-life and pro-choice activist could achieve… in a perfect world, that is.

Before I lose any points as a feminist (since I don’t want to be perceived in the same light as Elizabeth May), let me reaffirm that I’m unapologetically pro-choice. At the same time, as someone who is actively involved in the pro-choice movement, I never claim that opting for an abortion procedure is an easy decision. I see it sometimes when volunteer at the clinic. Nonetheless, I still do believe that it should be an option and that women should not be forced to have children they don’t want to. I choose to trust their judgment when it comes to making a decision in this regard and I don’t think that their private matters are any of my business anyway. In addition, I would never, ever argue for re-criminalization of abortion, even if the two sides joined forces and were able to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies through the measures described in this message.

Anyway, onto the e-mail:

I know her from my days at UVic, when I was a member of the campus pro-life club.

Now even though I am pro-life, I am about as far removed from people like her as you can get, in that I believe in contraception and comprehensive sex education as a means of reducing abortion through reducing unwanted pregnancies, as well as through a social safety net that includes affordable housing and universal childcare.  I also felt that we should work with the pro-choice movement to achieve these goals.

Needless to say, my views were met with downright hostility from her.  The look she has on her face is an interesting combination of humbleness, arrogance and fear.  Fear that the way she lives her life will be threatened if anything that is different from it is allowed, and arrogance that her pre-Vatican 2 Catholic way of life is the only thing that is remotely acceptable.

The thing is, it is this attitude that drives progressives such as myself from the mainstream pro-life movement, causing it to become increasingly dominated by the lunatic fringe that you have described.

I’d like to thank him/her again for coming forward with his/her thoughts.

The Kielburger Brothers Are Feminist and Christian Fundamentalists Are Out of Touch with Reality… As Always

6 Jul

Devout Christians are always in touch with reality, a fact I’ve come to appreciate in my teens, having grown up as a Catholic and received religious education since kindergarten.

Craig Kielburger, one of the founders of Free the Children, an organization working toward improving children’s rights around the world, actually went to my high school, and I attended his speech and presentation on his work one afternoon in the cafeteria. I’ve always admired his work, but until now I wasn’t aware of his advocacy for reproductive rights. For example, in the same column mentioned below, they deem the defunding of the International Planned Parenthood by the Conservative government as a “paternalistic refusal” to guarantee the same rights to women in developing countries.

Although the organization states that they do not have an official stance on abortion, both Kielburger brothers are feminist, even fiercely so:

To state the obvious: we’re men. Far from disqualifying us as feminists, we think it’s our responsibility to be what one male feminist dubbed “unlikely allies” in the battle for gender equality. We know young women who reject the f-word because they think it’s past its prime; because feminism is seen as a pointless academic pursuit by those who wrongly believe there is gender equality in developed countries. This is hardly the case…

Normally we’d define feminism as the struggle for gender quality, but in some cases it’s a struggle for fundamental human rights.

As child rights activists, both brothers witnessed first hand crimes committed against women and children:  human trafficking,  forcible prostitution, and rape. Therefore, they understand that they need to support a full range of reproductive rights abroad, including access to birth control and abortion services,  in order to improve the lives of women and children.

Christian fundamentalists, however, beg to differ. They have slammed both brothers, who grew up Catholic and who continue to gives speeches in Catholic schools in Ontario for openly embracing “radical feminism and homosexualism [sic].”

There you have it: supporting fundamental human rights for the female half of the population in the developing countries is, apparently, radical feminism.

And that is why I’m no longer a Catholic.


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