This Is My Rally Cry: #NBProchoice

Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton photoby Kathleen Pye. Originally posted at Fem2pt0. Cross-posted with the author’s permission.

It takes a special kind of person to work at an Abortion Clinic.

You need to possess just the right combination of kindness and compassion, combined with courage, determination, and a whole lot of humility. Not something you can put on a resume, and I highly doubt it’s something you can learn from an overpriced webinar. It’s something you’re born with. Perhaps better worded – it’s something you’re born to do.

I first met the wonderful women at the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, New Brunswick during my counselling psychology training program. I had recently decided that I was a feminist and wanted to learn more about abortion services. Despite my naivety I had good intentions; I knew the clinic was a source of contention within the community, and I felt compelled to learn about it.

But if I’m honest, there was another rationale for my desire to train as a counsellor at the clinic, although not one that I consciously recognized until my placement had completed: I wanted to better understand my internal conflict with being prochoice.

I grew up attending Catholic schools in an upper middle class community – the land of privilege. I was never lacking for anything and had a great education. I went to Sunday-School and I hated going to church, but only because it took me away from playing basketball for an hour a week.

I had also known that I was adopted long before it ever registered to me as being different. And just for clarity’s sake: despite how many people try to convince you that being adopted makes you ‘no different than anyone else’ it’s just not true. Being adopted does make you different. This is neither good nor bad – it just is. It’s a fact.

And with this difference comes the inevitable struggle with the ‘prochoice/antichoice’ debate. We are told that we can’t support abortion; we weren’t aborted, after all. We should be grateful. We should want to save other ‘adoptable children’. We are ‘gifts from God’. We were the ‘lucky ones’. We were ‘loved by our mothers right from the start’. These are all antichoice catch-phrases, told to me by the overtly uncritical. Read more

Posted on by Kathleen Pye in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics Leave a comment

DOXA Festival Ticket Giveaway: Casablanca Calling

Still from Casablanca Calling, showing a Morchidat teaching a class of students

by Jarrah Hodge

Rosa Rogers’ new documentary Casablanca Calling takes viewers to mosques, schools and prisons across Morocco, where a “quiet revolution” is occurring as approximately 400 women have started to work as Muslim leaders or Morchidats for the first time. Their goal is “to liberate women by sharing the true teaching of Islam, freed from misogynist interpretations.”

The film follows three Morchidats as they travel around Morocco, actively campaigning against arranged marriage, domestic abuse, financial exploitation, and female suicide.

Casablanca Calling is just one of many awesome movies that will be screening at Vancouver’s DOXA Festival, coming up from May 2-11, 2014. If you’re in town I highly recommend checking out their full program, especially the films related to women’s rights.

Gender Focus is very pleased to be the community partner for the screening of Casablanca Calling.

To enter to win a set of two tickets to the screening of Casablanca Calling at Sunday, May 11 at 6 p.m. at the Vancity Theatre (up to two entries per person):

  • Comment below or on the Gender Focus Facebook page and tell us your favourite movie of all time.
  • Tweet “I entered to win tickets to Casablanca Calling from @jarrahpenguin and @doxafestival http://goo.gl/vR07tl” 

I will randomly select a winner next Wednesday, April 23. Good luck and hope to see you at a DOXA screening in a few weeks!

For more information on DOXA, check out the interview I did last year with Director of Programming Dorothy Woodend.

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism 5 Comments

The Round-Up: April 15, 2014

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FFFF: Nadia Kamil’s Pap Rap

Friday Feminist Funny Film

Nadia Kamil made this rape video about the importance of Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer, and if that weren’t awesome enough, she’s backed up by Muppet-like puppets of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Note: Some language NSFW

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF 1 Comment

Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic Forced To Close. How You Can Help.

Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton photoby Jarrah Hodge

Today the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, New Brunswick announced it will be forced to close its doors at the end of July, after a 20-year long battle with the provincial and federal governments to get the funding it should be entitled to under the Canada Health Act.

This will seriously jeopardize the already limited access to reproductive health care in New Brunswick and PEI, putting lives at risk.

Activists are already starting to organize to call on the provincial and federal governments to save the clinic and deal with some of the larger issues that have led to this situation. Here at Gender Focus we know how important these services are to people in Atlantic Canada and we’ll keep you posted on how you can show your support.

Here are three things you can do right now:

 

  1. Sign the Change.Org petition calling on the government to fund services at the Morgentaler Clinic
  2. Tweet a message of support using the #NBProChoice hashtag
  3. Write a letter to your Member of Parliament (find out their contact info here). You can use this sample letter drafted by a local activist and former clinic volunteer, but if you can, it’s best to rephrase  in your own words so your MP knows you care personally about this issue enough to take the time to write.

4. (Added April 11) Take a picture of yourself with a message of solidarity for the NB Pro Choice Tumblr.

And keep checking back to our website for updates and more ways to help. Another good resource to stay up-to-date is the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada site.

Here is the press release from the clinic with more of the background:

FREDERICTON MORGENTALER CLINIC – BACKGROUNDER

From the moment Dr. Morgentaler announced his intention to open an abortion clinic in Fredericton, the provincial government planned to thwart his efforts.  The premier at the time, Frank McKenna, stated that: “if Mr. Morgentaler tries to open a clinic in the province of New Brunswick, he’s going to get the fight of his life.” Subsequent New Brunswick governments have continued to block access to abortion services in New Brunswick.

Dr. Morgentaler was immune to their threats.  He had already survived jail, threats against his life and the bombing of his Toronto clinic.  The actions of the N.B. government only served to strengthen his resolve to ensure that New Brunswick women would have access to safe abortion care in his clinic and that no woman would be turned away regardless of her ability to pay.  The Morgentaler Clinic opened in June, 1994 and since then has provided abortion services to more than 10,000 women in a non-judgmental, evidence based, and professional environment.

The main obstacle the New Brunswick government created for New Brunswick women who needed to access abortions was, and still is, Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2(a.1). It states that an abortion will only be covered by Medicare if:

  • It is performed in a hospital by a specialist in the field of obstetrics or gynaecology and that
  •  Two doctors have certified in writing that the procedure is ‘medically necessary’.

 

Note:  The federal government or the courts have never defined what ‘medically necessary’ means, other than the circular definition in the Canada Health Act – “medically necessary is that which is physician performed”.  The provinces decide what is medically necessary under the Act, by creating a list of insured services, which are then automatically deemed medically necessary.  With respect to abortion it does not mean ‘only if there is a threat to the mother or the foetus’.  New Brunswick acknowledges that abortion is a ‘medically necessary’ procedure by permitting abortions in some hospitals.  The same definition applies to clinics.

The practical consequence of this regulation is that, unlike in any other Canadian province with stand-alone clinics, abortions provided at the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton are not funded by Medicare. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics 4 Comments

Filmmakers Shed Light on Gertrude Bell’s Hidden Historical Legacy

Title picture for Letters from Baghdad documentary

by Sabine Krayenbühl & Zeva Oelbaum

Images courtesy of the Gertrude Bell Archives, Newcastle University 

Letters from Baghad is our film about British-born Gertrude Bell, also referred to as “the female Lawrence of Arabia.” She was an adventurer, spy, archaeologist and powerful political force who travelled into the uncharted Arabian desert and was recruited by British Military Intelligence to help reshape the Middle East after World War I. She drew the borders of Iraq, helped install its first king and established the Iraq Museum of Antiquities in Baghdad that was infamously looted during the 2003 American invasion.

As female filmmakers, we’ve always been interested in telling the stories of women, and we are fascinated by the choices that trail-blazing women almost always have to make. How do circumstances and personality come together to create a woman like Gertrude Bell, who turns her back on comfort and privilege in exchange for power and the potential to make a difference? Bell was a hugely successful woman in an all-male arena, but her contradictions make her a complex, intriguing and compelling subject for our film.

We first met while working on Ahead of Time, a film about another remarkable woman named Ruth Gruber. During a conversation one day, Gertrude Bell’s name came up and we realized we had shared the same feelings after having read Janet Wallach’s engrossing biography ‘Desert Queen’: amazement and fascination for Bell’s extraordinary story, and shock that we had not heard of her before. How is it that a woman of such extraordinary accomplishment and significant influence on the shaping of the modern Middle East could be practically missing from history? Read more

Posted on by Sabine Krayenbühl & Zeva Olebaum in Feminism Leave a comment

The Round-Up: April 8, 2014

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