Stephen Woodworth’s Little Toe Debate

7 Jan

There’s been a lot of coverage on the (supposedly) potential re-opening of the abortion debate (yet, again) in the living rooms of the nation (not likely) and in the Parliament (highly unlikely). The latest attempt at igniting bickering comes courtesy of Kitchener Centre MP Stephen Woodworth. Badly timed, I think. I attended a family reunion over Christmas and this “news,” which came right before the festive season, did not seem like a suitable topic for discussion over turkey and stuffing. If Woodworth aimed to reawaken the consciousness, that was a fail, at least at my family table.

If there is a new debate, there are old tactics. It’s never about religion. Ever. As much as the pro-life movement in Canada has been attempting to distance itself from religious zealotry, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has voiced their support for Woodworth (even if I wasn’t actively feminist, as an atheist this would be a total turn off for me).

Also, it is not about steering the debate toward emotion. Woodworth claims that  “a child is legally considered to be subhuman while his or her little toe remains in the birth canal, even if he or she is breathing.” Professor Shannon Dea of University of Western Ontario has written an excellent opinion piece, detailing Woodworth’s faulty interpretation of the current state of the law. In particular, she writes, “Ultimately, Woodworth’s release is no more than a superficial attempt to take advantage of the slow holiday news season, and not a serious effort to engage in deliberation and dialogue based on genuine data.”

Pro-lifers really need to figure out a new strategy and get the facts before proclaiming that the debate is renewed.

Update: Even National Post‘s Charles Lewis proclaims that the debate is dead (I say it never happened in the first place).

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No Comment: Self-Styled Pro-Life “Feminist”

11 Nov

In this occasional feature, we present the best of amusing anti-choice nonsense, found online and elsewhere. In this case, I’m not discounting this woman’s experience with abortion; it is not always the right choice for everyone. However, what I do find funny is her lecture on what is “true” feminism. 

The abortion debate is dishonest without the truth of what it does to the unborn child. As a woman who had more than one abortion I am grateful I now know the truth. It was a formed fetus and it was extremely painful for the children who were separate entities from myself to be literally pulled apart. The photos show the truth of the mortality of the child and the dismemberment shows the pain that was inflicted upon the children. I believe I am a true feminist who is unequivocally pro-life. I did not have the right to choose to kill my unborn children. A truth I am grateful to know. Our humanity will never give us the right to kill a defenseless life. As true feminists we must strive to protect unborn children. A separate entity whom relies on us to protect their existence. How are we who fought for the right of personhood able to kill our unborn children or to support other women to kill their unborn children.

—comment made on this blog


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?

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Abortion Access in Prince Edward Island

9 Nov

Can be best described as non-existent. According to the CBC’s The Current, some women are so desperate to terminate their pregnancies  that they self-induce. Those who are able to afford the expense are required to travel to Fredericton or Halifax for their procedures. However, the province will not cover the costs unless the patient receives two separate referrals from two different docotrs, which, judging from the interview, may be next to mission impossible. 

Back to the 1950s we go. This is ridiculous, considering that abortion is legal and covered in most provinces by provincial health plans. PEI women deserve equal rights with women living in other provinces; all Canadian women should be entitled to the same level of health care, no matter where they live. 

However, there is a new organization,  PEI Reproductive Rights Organization, which hopes to change this. It was founded by Kandace Hagen, a woman who was forced to travet to the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton for her procedure and was given inadequate information from her doctor to figure out her options. The group is currently working on organizing a Reproductive Rights Rally, so stay tuned.

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