Maritime Misogyny Ad Infinitum (On and On to tha Breaka Breaka Dawn!)

by matttbastard

"Join the 21st-century, New Brunswick"

Despite repeatedly getting spanked by provincial courts, apparently New Brunswick’s provincial government  STILL fears women’s reproductive freedom enough to consider taking Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s 7-year-old lawsuit over public funding of private clinic abortions in the province all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada:

The New Brunswick government is reviewing the latest Court of Appeal ruling that cleared the way for Dr. Henry Morgentaler to sue the province over its refusal to fund abortions performed at his clinic in Fredericton.

The government has argued it only has to pay for abortions approved by two physicians and performed in hospitals.

Attorney General T.J. Burke told reporters on Friday that his staff will use the next 30 days to decide whether they will seek leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“Our office will review the procedural decision made by the Court of Appeal to determine whether there’s any palpable or overriding errors in law and determine whether or not we should appeal,” Burke said.

[…]

Morgentaler wants medicare to cover the $750 fee for abortions performed at his clinic, which currently are paid for by the patients themselves.

The province argued Morgentaler couldn’t sue on the issue because it affects women, not him. In January, after a Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruled in Morgentaler’s favour, the province appealed the decision.

On Thursday, three appeal judges also ruled in Morgentaler’s favour. The province had argued it would be better if the lawsuit was launched by a woman who had been forced to pay for a clinic abortion.

Chief Justice Ernest Drapeau said that argument doesn’t pass muster. None of the many women who have had abortions at Morgentaler’s Fredericton clinic in the past 15 years has come forward to file a lawsuit, he noted.

Gee, wonder if the consideration of yet another appeal reflects the personal anti-choice zealotry of New Brunswick’s Health Minister?

New Brunswick’s health minister says his personal view on when life begins makes him “not entirely” comfortable administering the province’s laws and policies on abortion.

Michael Murphy was among several Liberal and Progressive Conservative MLAs who attended an anti-abortion rally [!] in front of the legislative assembly on Thursday.

Murphy told the crowd of more than 300 that he believes life begins at conception.

“It is my own personal belief that the unborn, at any stage, is human life, and I believe in human life, and I support it,” Murphy said.

That personal view is at odds with provincial regulations that allow abortions in hospitals, he said.

Medicare funds abortions in hospitals if two doctors agree the procedure is medically necessary.

When asked, Murphy admitted his personal beliefs do not make him comfortable in administering some of his duties as health minister.

“Not entirely, but that’s the way it is,” he said.

Plus, y’know, Morgentaler might keel over soon — and that means EPIC WIN FOR TEH INNOCENT BABIES!

Peggy Cooke, who works at the [Morgentaler] clinic, hopes the province will stop stalling the legal process.

“So I think they’re kind of waiting for him to give up and waiting for him to be incapable of doing it anymore,” she said.

Morgentaler is 86 years old and there have been reports his health has been declining.

Morgentaler’s name is on the lawsuit. His death would force another plaintiff to restart the legal process.

Also, with regards to the province’s oft-refuted contention that a woman should have initially tendered the suit, Cooke once again layeth the smacketh down:

As Cooke points out, the reason Morgentaler is suing is because no woman has been willing to take on the provincial government.

“There’s so much stigma with abortion, and secondly the money is a huge problem. It costs thousands and thousands of dollars to do this,” Cooke said.

Yeah, because, um, if one doesn’t have a spare $750 to terminate their pregnancy it’s highly unlikely they’ll have several grand kicking around to take the freakin’ government to court over said $750.

Ahem.

Oh, and speaking of that oh-so-contentious procedural cost and the public purse, deBeauxO nails it in comments @ DAMMIT JANET (h/t):

Before the shrieeeking starts about the cost of this medical intervention, it’s important to to note that root canals can cost over $1000.

Also, the New Brunswick government is running up quite a legal tab by refusing to accept the judgement of its own courts. Taxpayers will be footing that bill.

Women’s health and bodily autonomy? The law of the land (as confirmed by TWO provincial courts)? The proper allocation and utilization of taxpayer dollars?

Pshh. Wevs. Clearly New Brunswick stubbornly and steadfastly serves a HIGHER power.

Or something.

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Supreme Court of Canada Unanimously Defrosts Libel Chill

by matttbastard

The Globe & Mail:

The media should not live in constant fear of facing a libel suit every time a provocative commentary is published or broadcast, the Supreme Court of Canada said yesterday in a major ruling won by controversial Vancouver radio broadcaster Rafe Mair.

In a 9-0 decision that modernizes the defence of fair comment, the court found that Mr. Mair did not defame Christian-values advocate Kari Simpson when he denounced her stand on a book-banning controversy.

“An individual’s reputation is not to be treated as regrettable but unavoidable roadkill on the highway of public controversy, but nor should an overly solicitous regard for personal reputation be permitted to ‘chill’ freewheeling debate on matters of public interest,” Mr. Justice Ian Binnie said.

Judge Binnie said that the key to a defence of honest belief – particularly in an era when extravagant overstatement is common – should lie in whether an honest person could have held the same opinion.

“We live in a free country, where people have as much right to express outrageous and ridiculous opinions as moderate ones,” Judge Binnie said. “In much modern media, personalities such as Rafe Mair are as much entertainers as journalists.”

Score one for the chronically hyperbolic Canadian media personalities who live and die on the alter of outrageous and ridiculous opinions (ahem).

H/t The Robert Bond Papers

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A Landmark Victory For Reproductive Liberty

by matttbastard

celebrate 20 years of choice

On January 28th, 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada tendered a watershed decision in the case of R. v. Morgentaler, rendering Canada’s restrictive abortion law null and void.

Judy Rebick recalls the moment she received word that the had court struck down the law:

It was freezing cold. A group of pro-choice activists were standing in front of the clinic along with a mob of media waiting to hear the news from our comrades in Ottawa. They were supposed to call the clinic as soon as the decision came down and the clinic staff would let us know. We didn’t have cell phones in those days.

A reporter called me aside and said she had just heard on her radio that the Supreme Court had struck down the law on the grounds that it interfered with women’s right to security of the person. I didn’t believe her. We thought the Court might very well strike down the law but we figured it would be on the technical grounds of lack of equal access. A decision based on the Charter guarantee of security of the person was too much to hope for. After all, the major argument of the pro-choice movement was that a woman had the right to control her own body and this was close.

Indeed the majority decision written by Chief Justice Brian Dickson stated:

“State interference with bodily integrity and serious state-imposed psychological stress, at least in the criminal law context, constitutes a breach of security of the person. Section 251 (the old abortion law) clearly interferes with a woman’s physical and bodily integrity. Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a fetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman’s body and thus an infringement of security of the person.”

It was a profound and incredibly long lasting victory that for us was of equal significance to the winning of the right to vote a couple of generations before. In essence, the highest court of the land said that the abortion law violated women’s right to control her own body free from state interference.

Berlynn points to the minority report, written by the late Justice Bertha Wilson, which goes even further in highlighting her recognition that abortion is a necessity:

This decision is one that will have profound psychological, economic and social consequences for the pregnant woman. The circumstances giving rise to it can be complex and varied and there may be, and usually are, powerful considerations militating in opposite directions. It is a decision that deeply reflects the way the woman thinks about herself and her relationship to others and to society at large. It is not just a medical decision; it is a profound social and ethical one as well. Her response to it will be the response of the whole person.

Today we rightly celebrate the vindication of a woman’s right to exercise the “profound social and ethical” decision of controlling her reproductive destiny without fear of condemnation by the state. But we should also remember that, for too many women in Canada, the struggle for reproductive autonomy is far from over. 20 years after R. v. Morgentaler, access is still far from universal:

In Canada, access to health services is guaranteed by the Canada Health Act. Abortion is considered a safe, legal, insured and funded service, meaning that a woman should not have to pay for abortion services in Canada.

However, access is variable across the country and women are charged fees at some facilities. For example:

  • There are no abortion services in Prince Edward Island.
  • In New Brunswick, to have a publicly funded abortion a woman has to have approval from two doctors to have an abortion in the hospital. If she has an abortion at the clinic, then she will have to pay as the province will not pay for abortions outside publicly funded facilities, such as hospitals.
  • New Brunswick funds only abortion care provided by obstetrician/gynecologists, not family physicians as is common throughout the rest of Canada.

Some of these barriers may violate the Canada Health Act and the intent of the decriminalization of abortion in Canada.

Abortion is funded under provincial and territorial health plans, and coverage varies regionally.

According to the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, even though “two-thirds of all abortions are done in a hospital and covered by Medicare”, today “less than one in five hospitals provide abortions, making it difficult for women to access safe and timely abortion services.” This especially affects those women who are financially insolvent and/or reside in remote/rural areas of Canada by placing “undue physical and financial stress on women when forced to travel long distances, find accommodation, take time away from work and, in some cases, have to pay for the abortion themselves.” Furthermore, as Joyce Arthur noted this past November, there are a number of anti-choice activists in Canada who would eagerly re-criminalize abortion altogether, penalizing women (and abortion providers) for engaging in Charter-protected reproductive liberty:

In a disturbing section of November’s The Interim (“Canada’s Life and Family newspaper”), five prominent anti-choice spokespersons plus an anti-choice columnist consider the question of criminal punishment for abortion, if abortion were to be made illegal again. Shockingly, four out of six believe women should be prosecuted and sent to jail, while the other two want women subjected to mental health treatment. All six want abortion providers to be prosecuted for murder

The majority of Canadians would likely be horrified by the idea of sending women to jail for having abortions. Most reasonable people would see it as abhorrent and heartlessly punitive – not to mention totally unrealistic, given the large numbers of women who resort to abortion even when it’s illegal. But the unimaginable prospect and horrific consequences of trying to arrest and jail 100,000 women a year in Canada alone do not seem to faze anti-choicers.

April Reign captures the cruel folly of such proposed measures:

There is a mistaken belief that if abortion were completely outlawed no more abortions would ever be preformed. This of course is ridiculous nonsense. Women have always practised birth control and abortion. And would continue to do so.

Of course, anti-choicers don’t desire the outlawing an essential (gender-exclusive) medical procedure because they actually care about the purported “rights” of the unborn:

For all their talk about valuing babies and life, anti-choicers have demonstrated time and again that they could actually care less. They’re more interested in punishing women for sex and in maintaining a male-dominated family model. And they’re only “pro-life” up until the moment of birth — then you’re on your own.

[…]

There are no two ways about this one — when abortion is illegal, women are killed and maimed. Some 80,000 women die as a result of illegal abortion every year; hundreds of thousands more are injured. Women around the world suffer when pro-life laws rule the land. Andpro-liferscould care less. Illegal abortion is the cause of 25% of all maternal deaths in Latin America, 12% in Asia, and 13% in sub-Saharan Africa. Women’s lives, apparently, aren’t covered by that whole “pro-life” thing.

Make no mistake: now more than ever, a woman’s body is a moral battle ground. We can’t cede any ground to anti-choice zealots who would fallaciously and callously equate potential people with human beings, acorns with oak trees–no matter how “reasonable” compromise may seem in theory (especially to those who don’t possess a uterus–“objectifying [the decision], thereby eliminating the subjective elements of the female psyche which are at the heart of the dilemma,” as Justice Wilson further noted in her Minority Report). Those who believe in the rights of women as being 100% insoluble–the whole loaf or nothing, no allowance for seemingly tiny nibbles, until there’s nothing left but crumbs–must remain ever vigilant and assertive in the wake of the baby lobby’s concerted assault on a woman’s bodily sovereignty.

Update: More Choice Day posts from: Alison @ Creekside, Dave and The Rev @ The Beav, skdadl-with-one-‘sk’, Daev @ Designated Protest Zone, Lulu, pale @ ACR, JJ Hippie, Canadian Cynic (also here), Dr Dawg, The Regina Mom, Kuri, Fern, dBO, Mike @ Rational Reasons, Antonia, Miss Vicky, 900ft Jesus, Chet Scoville, F-email Fightback and BJ Bjornsen.

Update 2: Even more from Red Jenny and That Buzz Between Your Legs.

Updated 3: More! More! More! (h/t Antonia Z) Justice is a Woman With A Sword, Megan’s Place, Aurelia (absolute must-read) and The Pedgehog.

Update 4: Welcome Feministe readers! Make yourselves at home, drinks are in the fridge, etc.

Update 5: Great quote over @ Yappa Ding Ding.

Update 6: Always worth teh wait for teh Kitteh.

Update 7: Two more late entries: CathiefromCanada and Purtek.

Update 8: Nikita @ Ranting and Raving is succinct and on point:

This is an immeasurably important choice and we must be on guard to ensure it does not get taken away from us.

Preach!

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PSA: 20th Anniversary of the Morgentaler Supreme Court Decision

by matttbastard

Via Choice Joyce @ Bread and Roses:

Events Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Morgentaler Decision

Toronto, Friday, January 25, 8:30 am – 5 pm. Symposium to Mark the 20th Anniversary of R v. Morgentaler, Of What Difference: Reflections on the Judgment and Abortion in Canada Today. This symposium will examine the significance of the judgment today: What difference has it made to women, providers, and the politics of abortion in Canada? Sponsored by NAF Canada and the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. Location: Flavelle Classroom C, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto. Free registration. Register and find details at: www.law.utoronto.ca/conferences/ofwhatdifference.html. Contacts: Dawn Fowler, dfowler@prochoice.org or Joanna Erdman, joanna.erdman@utoronto.ca

Toronto, Friday, January 25, 7:30pm. Fundraising Reception for National Abortion Federation Canada ‘s Patient Assistance Fund. Many women lack the resources to pay for costs associated with abortion care, such as transportation, childcare, and medications. Also, some women cannot access medical coverage and require financial support. Donations to this fund will allow NAF Canada to provide financial assistance when it is urgently needed. Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Avenue. $30 per ticket or $50 for two tickets. RSVP by January 24 to dfowler@prochoice.org or 250-598-1858.

Toronto, Saturday, January 26, 7pm. Another World is Possible: Cultures of Resistance. An evening of music, art, film, and poetry inspired by diverse struggles for justice as part of the World Social Forum Global Day of Action, and a special tribute to the reproductive choice movement on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Morgentaler Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in Canada. Featuring Dionne Brand, LAL, Marcelo Puente and Heather Chetwind, Choice Monologues, Ulla Laidlaw, PATAC (Phillipine Theatre Group), Global Aware Photo Exhibit, video on World Social Forum by Velcrow Ripper, and many other artists and performers. Free admission. Ryerson Student Campus Center, 55 Gould St. More info: www.ryerson.ca/tsf Contact: Michelle.langlois@ryerson.ca

Ottawa, Monday, January 28, noon-1 pm. Planned Parenthood Ottawa will be peacefully standing outside the Morgentaler Clinic at 65 Bank Street to thank Dr. Henry Morgentaler and to remind everyone that there is still an ongoing struggle for accessibility nation-wide. If you would like to join us, please do. Bring pro-choice signs, bring your friends, sisters, brothers, coworkers, and neighboors. We anticipate anti-choice groups to be there as well. Also, on Tuesday, January 22, from 3pm-9pm, please come to a poster-making session for the rally at Planned Parenthood Ottawa, 251 Bank Street, Suite 201. Materials provided. Invitation and details: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=21600536808

Ottawa, Wednesday, January 30, 7-9:30 pm. Gala Night, featuring Honourable Senator Lucie Pepin, Judy Rebick, video presentation from Dr. Henry Morgentaler, and performers Lesley Hoyles (singer), the Asinabika Women’s Drumming Circle, and introducing Peggy Cooke, winner of the Pro-Choice Canada Contest. Free admission, but limited to 200 people. Location: House of Commons, Centre Block, Room 200. Invitation-only event: you must RSVP before Jan 28 to Tracey Bellingham at info@canadiansforchoice.ca or 613-789-9958 ext 222 or toll-free 1-888-642-2725, ext 222.

Regina, Monday, January 28, 12:30-2:30 pm. Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Morgentaler Case. Enjoy tea and anniversary cake. Free admission. Location: Women’s Centre, University of Regina. More info: water_lover2001@hotmail.com Also, in the days leading up to the event, there will be a “coat hanger campaign” to promote awareness of abortion rights.

Vancouver – Monday, January 28, 6-10 pm. The Morgentaler Decision: Before and Beyond. Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision that finally gave Canadian women true reproductive choice. Reception, cash bar, speaker’s panel with Jackie Larkin, Nitya Iyer and Shelagh Day. New documentary film “Henry.” Location: SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings St., Vancouver. Free admission. Poster with details: http://www.prochoiceactionnetwork-canada.org/Morgentaler-Jan-28-08-flyer.pdf More info: jharthur@shaw.ca

Related: Sweet Jesus, I hate David Frum.

Update: JJ preaches gospel:

Thanks to Dr. Morgentaler we have unrestricted reproductive choice. Thanks to Chantal Daigle, nobody can fuck with that choice by using (abusing) the legal system to force women to be unwilling incubators. Remember “freedom is on the march” and “let freedom reign” and “they hate us for our freedom”? Freedom is good!

A-fuckin’-men!

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