abortion rights coalition of canada

Help “This is My Canadian Body” Reach Their Goal

293000_506695339357531_1784558158_nby Jarrah Hodge

Last year in the States, Jason Stefaniak worked with women of all ages and backgrounds to create the video “This is My Body”, which addressed issues ranging from abortion to cancer to pay equity.

After seeing it, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada volunteer Mandy Osipenko realized a Canadian version could be a useful outreach and education tool. Along with other ARCC volunteers, Mandy set up a Facebook page and has already started receiving video submissions with a plan to having the final video compiled and produced from videos sent in from around the country.

From the speech that will help form the video:

I am a Canadian woman, and this is my body.

I do what I want with it.

I make my own choices.

I use it as a canvas, tattoo it, decorate it, and pierce it.

I take medicine if I want to and only undergo medical procedures I choose.

I eat what I want, exercise for my health, and wear what I like.

I fall in love with whomever, sleep with whomever and marry whomever I choose.

I decide when and how and whether to become a mother.

This is my body, not yours,

Right now the group is fundraising to make that final piece come together and cover the editing and production costs. They’re only $375 away from their goal and if you’re interested in helping out, you can make a contribution at http://www.gofundme.com/thisismycanadianbody.

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics Leave a comment

Celebrating 25 Years of Decriminalized Abortion in Canada

prochoiceLast week American feminists and pro-choice activists celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and on Monday January 28, Canadians will mark the 25th anniversary of the R. v. Morgentaler decision, which decriminalized abortion in Canada. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the case, there is a detailed timeline here.

In brief, Dr. Henry Morgentaler had been providing abortions, which were illegal under Section 251 of the Criminal Code, since 1968. In 1969 there was a change to the law which allowed for abortions in very limited circumstances: at a hospital with a Therapeutic Abortion Committee (panel of doctors) who could approve and perform abortions if a woman’s life or health was at risk. The change was unevenly implemented and women waited an average of eight weeks to access an abortion.

After years of legal battles, Morgentaler’s most recent case (he and two other doctors were arrested in 1983 for performing illegal abortions at a Toronto clinic) came to the Supreme Court of Canada, and on January 28th the abortion law was found to violate section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it infringes upon a woman’s right to life, liberty, and security of the person (a contrast to Roe, which was based on a woman’s right to privacy).

The decision was and is a big deal. In a statement of support, Anand Grover, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Right to Health, said,In decriminalizing abortion, R v. Morgentaler upheld these principles as crucial to women’s reproductive freedom and autonomy. It recognised the fundamental right of a women to make decisions concerning her own body, ushering in an era of equality, dignity and freedom for women in Canada.”

Events will be held across the country to celebrate and reflect on the significance of the ruling. And the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has set up a website – www.morgentaler25years.ca – that’s full of great background and facts about the struggle for abortion rights from the 1960s to today. I encourage you to check it out and send a congratulatory message to Dr. Morgentaler.

I wasn’t yet born when Roe v. Wade was decided. And I was only two years old at the time of the Morgentaler decision, but I am so grateful for the work that was done so that I and other women of my generation could have safe access to the full range of reproductive health care. I value these anniversaries and the opportunity they provide to hear the stories of those who struggled for women’s rights long before the recent “War on Women”. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics Leave a comment

Union Sisters Talk Reproductive Rights

Joyce Arthur, Jackie Larkin and Judy Darcy

Joyce Arthur, Jackie Larkin and Judy Darcy

by Jarrah Hodge

In the late 70′s and 80′s feminists involved in BC’s labour movement launched “Union Sisters”, regular gatherings of union women who would share a meal, listen to a speaker, and organize on important issues.

This fall a handful of union women decided to re-launch these gatherings. Using only emails, Facebook, and social media they put the word out and attracted about fifty women to the first meeting in September, which featured Dr. Marjorie Griffin-Cohen speaking on the negative impacts of BC Liberal policy on women in BC.

I’m pleased I was able to attend the second “Union Sisters” evening in New Westminster earlier this week. The theme of the night was: “The Current Challenges to our Reproductive Rights” and included an oral history on the 1970s Abortion Caravan, as well as a presentation by Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.

Addressing the current situation, Arthur put the lie to Harper’s claim that he doesn’t want to “re-open the abortion debate”, noting right off the bat by limiting funding to organizations that provide abortion and contraception in developing countries for the first time in decades, that’s exactly what the Harper government did.

Arthur also touched on the defeat of the anti-choice M-312 in Parliament this fall:

“It was quite a strong defeat but nobody was really happy about it… it was disturbing because 1/3 of the cabinet voted in favour of it, including Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose.”

Arthur identified fighting anti-choice advertisements through complaints to Advertising Standards Canada as one area in which the ARCC and its feminist allies have had particular success.

“They’re usually demeaning to women in some way,” Arthur said of the ads. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism 1 Comment

M-312 Goes Down!

Sasha Askarian and Thea Jardine at M-312 Rally

Radical Handmaids rally in Vancouver Tuesday

by Jarrah Hodge

As hoped and predicted, Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth’s anti-choice Motion-312 went down in flames in its final vote yesterday, losing 91 to 203. I think most of us who worked on this issue are happy but would’ve preferred an even stronger split. To see how everyone voted, alphabetical by last name, click here.

The fact that several front-bench Conservatives voted in favour of the motion was most disconcerting. In addition, to Jason Kenney, who had announced earlier this week he was voting in favour, seven other cabinet ministers and two ministers of state voted yes, including Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose.

Minister Ambrose’s move has led to calls for her to resign or be booted from cabinet. In a press release (pdf), Abortion Rights Coalition Executive Director Joyce Arthur said:

“Not only did Ambrose openly defy her Prime Minister’s instruction to his Cabinet to vote against the motion, she threw women under the bus,” said Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC). “Her job is to advance the rights and interests of women, so her Yes vote on the motion was a shocking failure and a slap in the face to the women of Canada. She’s proven herself to be unfit for the job and must resign immediately.”

A Facebook page “Rona Ambrose Must Go” has been set up and I’m expecting online petitions to be started soon, so will keep you posted. In addition, four Liberal MPs supported M-312 in the final vote.

The Bloc, NDP, and Green caucuses were united against it though a couple of MPs missed the vote due to other important business. I hope folks take time to thank the MPs who voted against M-312, especially those who also spoke up in the press and social media and who lobbied their colleagues on the importance of protecting women’s constitutional rights.

Overall it was a hard-fought victory and it’s not likely to be the last time we see something like this come forward. Keep those Radical Handmaids hats on hand, folks, because it’s still at least a year until the next federal election and Stephen Harper clearly isn’t trying that hard to keep the abortion debate closed.

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics 3 Comments

Abortion Rights Are Queer Rights

This piece was originally posted at Synergy, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s student and youth network for reproductive justice blog. It was written by guest contributor Kailey Willetts. She is a UVic student journalist working in the areas of queer rights and reproductive justice. Cross-posted with permission.

Anti-choicers love to connect queer people with the struggle for abortion rights in truly absurd ways. One example is this charmer from LifeSiteNews.com blogger, Alissa Golob:

“On an ideological level, homosexuality tends towards being individualistic; in a practical sense, profoundly sterile. Homosexuality uses sex as an instrument for self-gratifying pleasure, and cannot physically be used in the unitive and procreative way it was intended.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum, you find mainstream gay rights activists vehemently asserting that abortion rights are not gay rights. These are very likely the same gay rights activists solely occupied with pursuing the right to have children and parent.

While forsaking one aspect of reproductive justice that you don’t feel impacts you is shitty, it goes far beyond that. Reproductive justice in all aspects is a queer rights issue; abortion is a queer rights issue (and not because we’re “profoundly sterile”). Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, LGBT, Politics Leave a comment