Why Film an Abortion?

Emily Letts is a woman who decided to film herself getting an abortion. I think what she did is amazing. The dominant image of an abortion in North America is of something emotionally upsetting and physically painful.

It is important that this image is challenged and the truth of abortion is shown. Many women have written and talked about their own experiences about abortion, but a video is a first.

I think a video is an especially good way to debunk abortion myths. By seeing a video you can see exactly what happens without any bias’ being placed on the experience.

For people who are thinking about getting an abortion this is very helpful. By seeing the procedure themselves before hand they may feel more reassured in their choice, and feel less nervous about the procedure.

Here is the video:


Move Forward

This is a video from a youtube channel called ReproductiveRight100 that is dedicated to reproductive rights in the United States. This video is trying to hold President Obama accountable to his words. President Obama said he believes in reproductive rights but with the amount of laws being created in the USA to roll back reproductive rights it can be hard to see how Obama is standing up for women’s rights.

Ireland Keeps Abortion Restrictions In New Bill

Ireland keeps restrictions that make abortion only legal when it is an emergency abortion but makes changes in order to “clarify” when an emergency abortion may be performed. The new protection of life during pregnancy bill does not necessarily change the law it really only makes it more specific. The law is meant to clearly say when an emergency abortion may be performed. An abortion may be performed legally in Ireland when the:

a)that procedure is carried out by a registered medical practitioner at an appropriate location, and

(b) two medical practitioners, have, in accordance with this head, jointly certified in good faith that –

(i) there is a real and substantial risk of loss of the pregnant woman’s life other than by way of self-destruction, and

(ii) in their reasonable opinion this risk can be averted only by that medical procedure.

Now I have not read the bill in its entirety but I do not like what I have read. As you can see above you must have two medical practitioners in order to receive an emergency abortion. This causes inaccessibility even in cases when a women’s life is in danger. Not only would it be difficult to find two doctors willing to perform an abortion there are also restrictions on what kind of doctor you can have. One of the doctors must be an obstetrician/gynaecologist who is registered  with the Specialist Division. Also the doctors cannot be the women’s own general practitioner because they must be consulted by the other two doctors. This is could cause a women to be unable to find doctors willing to give her an abortion and therefore cause her to die.

Even after the death of Savita Halappanavar the laws have not changed to help women. For those of you who did not hear about Halappanavar here is her story in little detail. She was a 31 year old dentist in Galway Ireland who went to a University hospital complaining of pain. She was having a miscarriage but the doctors could not help her because the fetus still had a heartbeat. They told her and her husband that they were a Catholic country and therefore could not abort her dying fetus. Halappanavar and her husband are not Irish or Catholic, yet they had to follow the Catholic laws against abortion. Halappanavar and her fetus died as a result of the lack of treatment at a hospital.

There has been much public outcry and protest after Halappanavar’s death yet this new bill does not address this. The new bill, as far as I have read, does not allow for the termination of pregnancy in Halappanava’s case. I am avidly pro-choice as you know from reading this blog and therefore believe that there should be no restrictions at all when it comes to abortion, birth control and reproductive right. I understand that Ireland is a Catholic country and therefore religion is influential in cases like this, but when it comes to cases like Halappanava religion needs to realise that the women’s life is important. Halappanava could have lived. If she was in England, Canada, Switzerland, even in most US States she would have survived.

Bills should not be changed to clarify existing restrictions they should be changed to remove restrictions and help women. Women have a right to life, and a right to their own physical and emotional safety that is being ignored in this bill.

Sex Selective Abortion

I found this at the Trent University campus. I was, and am, a little appalled by it. The facts just aren’t true. If you look at the citations they have facts for China but nothing reliable for Canada. I don’t think that you should get an abortion because of the gender of your fetus but I fear that any laws against this will only spread.
I worry that if any legislation is made on abortion it will just grow until choice is ultimately removed.
What are your thoughts on legislation against sex selective abortion?

Politicians vs the People

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.

Alberta Sterialization Act

Thousands of Native people were sterilized as part of “the provinces’ systematic long-term program of forced genetic -and racial purification established by the Alberta Eugenics Board” (Savage). Eugenics was praised in the day of the Alberta Sterilization Act’s creation in 1928, and is the deliberate genetic manipulation of a population as an approach to racial purification.

This is a video by Prof. Gerald B Robertson made in 2012 on the aniversery of the repeal of the sterilization act. He is an academic who studies mental health law ans was an expert witness in Leilani Muir’s court case:

This is a video by Dr. Rob Wilson made in 2012 on the aniversery of the repeal of the sterilization act. He explains the reasons behind the act and the legislation used:

Abortion Caravan

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.