Over 25 years of anti choice anger and I have never heard of them. I live in Peterborough Canada and attend Trent University there but some how have never heard of the Peterborough Pro-Life organization (PPL). According to this article they protest every single Saturday outside the Peterborough Hospital. This blew my mind. I had no idea they existed. As a feminist and a supporter of choice and all reproductive rights I am amazed I have never heard of them. Thanks to a lovely friend of mine, I now know about them.
Although I have never heard of them they seem to have some friends in high places. Local conservative MP Dean Del Mastro assisted the PPL in getting information about the number of abortions performed. The hospital did not want to give them this information.
They want to put religion in politics in a time period where we thankfully have a secular state. One of the women involved, Mrs. van der Vegt., said this about being pro-life: “It’s spiritual warfare,”. She also said that she is protesting because it is God’s will. I disagree with her. The God I believe in respects women’s rights and knows that religion has no place in legislation.
If any of you wonderful people who read this blog live in the area I am thinking about maybe shaking up their Saturday routine by having a little counter protest. It will be a good warm up for the big protest in Ottawa on May 9th, the anniversary of R v Morgentaler.
I understand that people are pro life and that this is a valid opinion to have. Feminism is not about the choices you make it is about having a choice. My only problem is people who are pro life is that they want to take away other peoples rights when pro choice only wants to give everyone options.
Here is information on PPL if you’re interested:
Ali van der Vegt Phone: (705) 745-3820 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the Peterborough Pro-Life Silent Prayer Vigil every Saturday, 10AM to 11AM. Peterborough Regional Health Centre 1 Hospital Dr, Peterborough, ON
Please do not email or call Mrs. van der Vegt if you plan on sending rude, offensive, threatening messages to her. I give you this information because it was on the article linked, not so you can do any harm. Everyone deserves to have an opinion and you should not be mean to them because of it.
The people and the state disagreed on the issues of abortion and birth control. Women have always been trying to control their bodies and reproduction. It is interesting to look into the reasons for this. Why does the government care if women are using birth control or getting abortions? I think it is part of control. The Canadian government has historically been white old guys. This means that restrictions on reproductive rights are part of race, gender and class. If women are clearly in support for reproductive rights then how can the government not support it:
“popular support for birth control had grown; in 1961, 55% of Canadians said that birth control was not morally wrong. In 1965, that number climbed to 67%.24 The nation’s Catholics were also on board with 71% of those polled asserting that it was possible to use artificial methods of birth control and still remain good Catholics.” (Sethna, 5)
All these women supported freedom of reproductive rights but the government did not. I believe that reproductive rights were restricted as part of patriarchical control over women. If you can control a women’s body you can control her. If women cannot control their reproductive rights they will have less opportunities for freedom of sexuality and other aspects of their lives. They may miss out on education and careers because they are pregnant or caring for a child. They could also become severely harmed or even die from trying to find birth control and abortions. By limiting reproductive rights women are controlled by restrictions on reproductive rights that the government has in place.
Another reason governments have restrictions of reproductive rights could be class and race. If the government is made up of middle to upper class old white men then limiting lower classes and non white races could be part of the reason the government could be against reproductive rights. Abortions have always been accessible to the rich, it is the poor lower class who are most affected by these restrictions. As shown in the previous posts on sterilization, reproductive rights are a class and race issue. Eugenics and keeping Canada a “white country” are reasons to not only sterilize poor and racial minorities but to also limit reproductive rights for white women. By doing these two things the “unwanted’ races and classes have a lower birth rate and the “wanted” “pure” white race has a higher birth rate.
With politicians like Pierre Trudeau declaring that “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.” (Sethna, 5), you would think that they would also realise that the state has no place in the wombs of the nation. The people fought in the many ways already shown in these blog posts (Abortion Caravan, Birth Control Handbook…) and because of this were able to beat the state and take abortion and birth control off the criminal code.
The Abortion Caravan was created by members and supporters of the Vancouver Women’s Caucus. It was a van followed by a convoy of cars from Vancouver to Ottawa. They wanted to challenge the reforms to the abortion law in the spring of 1970. (Hewitt & Sethna, 142). The Abortion Caravan’s goal was to have the abortion law changed to remove restrictions women faced in order to receive an abortion. The reason feminists and the women’s movement wanted access to safe and legal abortions without restrictions was because they knew that women wanted control over their reproductive rights and were willing to go to any length to do so; this meant that many women were putting their health and lives on the line to get an abortion.
The Caravan, along with other women’s movements of the time, was under the scrutiny of the government. The RCMP followed the Caravan from Vancouver to Parliament Hill (Hewitt & Sethna, 142). The RCMP and the Canadian government were concerned about women’s movements and their connections to socialist and communists organizations. The van these women used had many slogans including “Smash Patriarchy” on the van. This slogan was one of the reasons the RCMP saw these women as possible communists. The RCMP saw women’s organizations as a problem because they would change social norms but did not interfere with the Abortion Caravan.
The RCMP apparently had little faith in the women of the abortion Caravan and underestimated the means they would go to to achieve their goals. The “RCMP in the capital found themselves completely unprepared when the VWC led an occupation of the lawn of the residence of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau by approximately three hundred women” (Hewitt & Sethna, 142). They did not expect this many women to take action or expect them to protest on the Prime Minister’s lawn.
Some of the women of the Abortion Caravan actually breached the security of the parliament buildings. I find this entertaining because if the RCMP was so concerned about the women’s movement you would think they would stop them from breaching security.The first breach was when -“approximately eighteen women sneaked into the public galleries of the House of Commons to condemn loudly the unfairness of the abortion law” (Hewitt & Sethna, 142) and the second was when they changed themselves to the seats in Parliament as an ode to the British suffragettes who did the same in the fight for the right to vote.
The link between the British suffragettes and the modern women’s movement in Canada is an interesting one. They both fought for what they believed in. The British suffragettes fought for the right to vote which now-a-days would seem ridiculous to most people in Canada. Hopefully someday the fight for abortion and birth control will also seem just as ridiculous of a right to have to fight for.
Abortion Caravan participant Marcy Cohen made this video showing the journey of the abortion caravan. It has videos, audio, pictures and newspaper clippings from the fight for free and legal abortion.