1.22.2006

choice in canada

I know abortion rights are not on the Conservative Party platform. And I know that Paul Martin is accused of fear-mongering when he says abortion rights will be threatened under a Stephen Harper Conservative government.

I know these things. But when Dr Henry Morgentaler, the Canadian abortion-rights pioneer, speaks, I tune in.
Henry Morgentaler, the father of Canada's pro-choice movement, says Stephen Harper's Conservatives can't be trusted on the abortion issue because the party is "chock full" of top-ranking members with virulent anti-abortion views.

Dr. Morgentaler, who has stood at the forefront of the battle for abortion rights for four decades, urged Canadians to be skeptical of Mr. Harper's promise to stay clear of legislation on the contentious issue. Dr. Morgentaler called the pledge a "tactical manoeuvre" and predicted the Conservative Leader would face intense pressure from his party to reopen the abortion debate.

"I don't trust the Conservative Party and I don't think women in Canada and people who love women in this country should trust the Conservative Party as far as abortion rights are concerned," he told reporters yesterday.

Dr. Morgentaler was in Montreal for the start of a $15-million class-action suit against the Quebec government on behalf of women forced to pay abortion fees in private clinics. He had no hesitation shifting from the court case to the election campaign, and called on all parties to commit to protecting women's access to abortion.

But with a Conservative victory looming, he singled out the views of Tory MPs such as Stockwell Day, who was promoted as a speaker at an anti-abortion conference in Montreal in November. While Mr. Day has been open about his beliefs, Dr. Morgentaler maintained that 90 per cent of the party's "upper echelons" hold similar ideological views, and a private member's bill would eventually make its way to the House of Commons.

"The front rank of the Conservative Party is chock full of people who are violently opposed to the rights of abortion, like Stockwell Day and similar guys, who will put pressure on Mr. Harper to reopen the issue," he said.

34 comments:

sharonapple said...

The problem with the Conservative party is that they believe in giving more freedom to their backbench. In some ways this is great, issues will be brought up that the Cabinet may ignore, but in others it's troublesome. The news that the Conservative Party President Don Plett wrote in an email that there was going to be a private member's bill on abortion is an example of how a party can go around their official policy. No, abortion legislation isn't a part of the party platform, but... well, it doesn't help destory the idea that they may have a "secret agenda."

"And even if [Mr. Day] made these comments, he was speaking at a right-to-life rally. What would you expect him to say? Our policy is that all MPs have the right to their opinion, not just those who are not in favour of the right to life," Mr. Plett wrote. "In fact, when we form government, we can be rest assured that there will be a private member's bill on this. So I strongly suggest that you don't make more of it than necessary."

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/freeheadlines/LAC/20060111/ELXABORTION11/national/National

Lone Primate said...

All I can say at this point is, let's pray for minority government, and that if it is Tory, that it doesn't acquit itself well and lasts only long enough for the Grits to clean house and front someone the country can support.

Wrye said...

A private member's bill, btw, has much harder hurdles to pass in order to become law than an ordinary bill, as I understand it. It isn't a meaningless distinction. And much like any free vote on Gay Marriage, it would face opposition from the other 3 parties combined--In a minority situation, it's going nowhere.

Put it another way, if Capital punishment never came within a whisper of passing during Mulroney's era, this won't either. And Harper, (like Mulroney) is a smart man who understands this is a sideshow distracting energy from what he really wants to do. But I don't know if he can keep the SoCons under control once they're actually running the asylum, so if this starts coming across as any sort of governmental priority...all the actual policy work he wants to do is likely to get lost in the furore.

We'll see.

Andrea said...

I agree.
IT is his stance on abortion, gay rights, enviroment, and Iraq that makes me very afraid of this man.

Wrye said...

Remember he's a neo-conservative, not a social conservative. Abortion and gay roights aren't what he primarily has a beef with. He isn't Stockwell Day. Don't confuse him with some of his followers, or you'll miss the real risks he potentially poses, both on the national and international scene.

Fundamentally, he's a policy wonk with very little invested in the current system--and I disagree with a lot of what he's said that he wants to do. The best reasons to be afraid of Harper are if you like strong central government, economic/environmental policy that isn't cribbed out of the Bush playbook, and, like most Canadians, hate deficits. On Iraq (or Iran), missle defence, etc--his instincts and policies are likely to be bad. Bad for us and everybody else.

Echo Mouse said...

I ditto Lone Primate.

Regarding Conservatives, it's been proven throughout the history of Canadian politics that anything they promise is generally fast talking to ensure they get elected. They would never win the award for exemplifying "Actions speak louder than Words". I will never ever trust a Conservative, even if they're the most charismatic convincing orators on the planet. They're just not about the people and have never been.

About their attitudes toward women...we only need look to Peter McKay's recent comments to a female MP - he told her to return to her knitting during a radio discussion because he couldn't beat what she was saying. I'd personally like to kick him in the balls for that remark. He epitomizes the Conservatives. Nobody should ever forget that.

L-girl said...

he told her to return to her knitting during a radio discussion

God that made me sick. I don't know how she kept her cool. I would have gone ballistic.

L-girl said...

I ditto Lone Primate.

Me too me too.

RobfromAlberta said...

"The front rank of the Conservative Party is chock full of people who are violently opposed to the rights of abortion, like Stockwell Day and similar guys, who will put pressure on Mr. Harper to reopen the issue," he said.

Violently opposed? When did Stockwell Day or any other "front rank" Conservative ever resort to violence?

L-girl said...

Violently opposed? When did Stockwell Day or any other "front rank" Conservative ever resort to violence?

I think that's being used as a synonym for "vehemently". I don't think it's meant to be taken literally, as advocating violence.

sharonapple said...

About their attitudes toward women...we only need look to Peter McKay's recent comments to a female MP - he told her to return to her knitting during a radio discussion because he couldn't beat what she was saying.

To be fair, he said this with regards to her comments that Alexa McDonough was helping fellow NDPers in their ridings. Still, I would have kicked him for that. I guess Stronach leaving him still stings.

Fundamentally, he's a policy wonk with very little invested in the current system--and I disagree with a lot of what he's said that he wants to do.

Yes, policy wonk.

And the people he has running for him aren't great at policy. There's Monte Solberg who spent 17 years as a broadcaster, and who couldn't get his numbers right -- the economist Paul Darby of the Conference Board of Canada even washed his hands of their budget. Stockwell Day, their foreign affairs critic actually gave reporters an article by David Frum saying that Yasser died of AIDS.

Sigh.

Violently opposed? When did Stockwell Day or any other "front rank" Conservative ever resort to violence?

Well, a Conservative worker hit a Liberal candidate after a debate... in the shoulder. Another Conservative worker picked up a female reporter, Lina Dibbs, to get her to stop asking the Conservative candidate questions. Minor things. But they haven't been elected yet. Imagine what they'll do when in power. (I kid. I kid. Don't pepper spray me. Oh wait, that's a Liberal thing.... See, I can joke about my own stand on things.)

Still, when someone speaks at a anti-choice meeting, you know they're not for it.

L-girl said...

To be fair, he said this with regards to her comments that Alexa McDonough was helping fellow NDPers in their ridings.

There's nothing to be fair about, and no excuse.

sharonapple said...

There's nothing to be fair about, and no excuse.

No, but it was to clarify the situation. Echomouse said he'd said this because McDonough had caught him in a debate point. Really, he just snapped at her. Which really makes the situation worse in a way.

sharonapple said...

Oh and for some laughs, there's:
http://www.derision2006.com/

with articles on:

Harper makes final reach to women voters with sensitive, creepy “Day at the OBGYN.”

and

Martin to Harper – I’d make a pretty good Finance Minister

L-girl said...

Echomouse said he'd said this because McDonough had caught him in a debate point. Really, he just snapped at her.

Oh, now I see what you meant. You're right - it's even worse!

Oh and for some laughs, there's:
http://www.derision2006.com/


Thanks!

L-girl said...

Sharonapple, do you have a blog I can link to?

RobfromAlberta said...

I don't think it's meant to be taken literally, as advocating violence.

There's nothing to be fair about, and no excuse.

So an abortion doctor gets the benefit of the doubt, but a Conservative MP gets vilified for an ill-considered, offhand remark. Double standard, n'est-ce pas?

Lone Primate said...

their foreign affairs critic actually gave reporters an article by David Frum saying that Yasser died of AIDS.

David Frum left Canada, moved to the US, and became a citizen there. Good for him. He's achieved for himself the things he couldn't force on his native land -- for which the least, the very least, he can do is leave us the f*** alone already. >:(

Lone Primate said...

Still, when someone speaks at a anti-choice meeting, you know they're not for it.

I'm on-side with you, but I object to this term. Would being called "pro-death" offend you? I imagine so. They're "pro-life". We're "pro-choice". Let's at least respect our chosen labels.

L-girl said...

So an abortion doctor gets the benefit of the doubt, but a Conservative MP gets vilified for an ill-considered, offhand remark. Double standard, n'est-ce pas?

What does this mean? What abortion doctor? There might or might not be a double-standard, but I have no idea what you're referring to. Explain, please?

L-girl said...

They're "pro-life". We're "pro-choice". Let's at least respect our chosen labels.

This is a major tenent of the pro-choice movement. We never use the term "pro-life" - because we don't believe being anti-abortion-rights is being pro-life! And we don't believe being pro-abortion-rights is being anti-life or, as you said, pro-death.

The opposite of choice is anti-choice, or anti-abortion. It is not pro-life.

I regard the term "pro-life" as propaganda that pervaded mainstream discourse, thanks to the media. I don't feel I have to respect that terminology anymore than I have to respect phrases like "godless heathens" or "blue-eyed devils" or "towel heads".

L-girl said...

What does this mean? What abortion doctor? There might or might not be a double-standard, but I have no idea what you're referring to. Explain, please?

Rob, OK, I just got it. I thought you were quoting a commenter who called someone "violently opposed", I didn't realize it was in the article about Morgentaler.

Now I see what you're saying. That was probably a poor choice of wording on his part. Although I will say I think there is a strong connection between political anti-abortion rhetoric and anti-abortion violence, and perhaps that's what Morgentaler was drawing attention to. But perhaps not.

The "stick to your knitting" comment is plain old sexism, and should have no place in political discourse at all.

I am inclined to give more of the benefit of the doubt to someone like Morgentaler, who I admire and respect (he is much more than "an abortion doctor"!) than to Peter Mackay, who I do not respect. Don't we all do that?

redsock said...

Harper makes final reach to women voters with sensitive, creepy "Day at the OBGYN."

At least he never said this:

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."

You-Know-Who, September 6, 2004, Poplar Bluff, Mo.

sharonapple said...

David Frum left Canada, moved to the US, and became a citizen there. Good for him. He's achieved for himself the things he couldn't force on his native land -- for which the least, the very least, he can do is leave us the f*** alone already. >:(

I agree. We're a lost cause Frum. (Frum was one of the "minds" behind the "common sense revolution." Another reason to dislike him.)

Sharonapple, do you have a blog I can link to?

I do. I have to start posting though. ^_^;

I'm on-side with you, but I object to this term. Would being called "pro-death" offend you? I imagine so. They're "pro-life". We're "pro-choice". Let's at least respect our chosen labels.

I was called pro-death once in a conversation that went out of control. Oh boy, we chased each other to the extremes in that one.

L-girl said...

Sharonapple, do you have a blog I can link to?

I do. I have to start posting though. ^_^;


When I click on the blogs through your profile, it comes up blank. But if you ever want a link, just let me know.

I was called pro-death once in a conversation that went out of control.

Americans who've done clinic escorting or other hands-on pro-choice work get used to this. I've been called a murderer - or "murderess" ! - so many times, I can't begin to count. Murderer, baby killer, butcher, Nazi... you name it.

I'll never call those people pro-life!

Lone Primate said...

The opposite of choice is anti-choice, or anti-abortion. It is not pro-life.

I regard the term "pro-life" as propaganda that pervaded mainstream discourse, thanks to the media. I don't feel I have to respect that terminology anymore than I have to respect phrases like "godless heathens" or "blue-eyed devils" or "towel heads".


That's not an applicable analogy. They're not calling people like us "towel heads". They're referring to themselves according to a characteristic they feel central to their philosophy; surely it's within their rights inasmuch to do so. It goes without saying that people on opposite sides of an issue are not going to agree with one another's fundamental thesis. But that does not absolve them of the requirement to pay them the same respect they demand for themselves. It's just common courtesy. Not to put too fine a point on it, these are people, both men and women, who believe that life begins at conception (and there's really no denying that; the only question is how whose rights trump, really). They simply place a different emphasis on the placement of the rights involved. Agreeing with person is not a prerequisite of being respectful in public discourse, and as such I maintain that we cheapen ourselves, not others, when we stoop to such tactics. In truth, it's calling someone, referring to herself as pro-life, "anti-choice" that is the equivalent of calling someone a "towel head"; it's an epithet aimed at another group, not one's own, that's objectionable.

Lone Primate said...

I've been called a murderer - or "murderess" ! - so many times, I can't begin to count. Murderer, baby killer, butcher, Nazi... you name it.

I'll never call those people pro-life!


I don't understand how you can fail to appreciate the inherent contradiction in being upset by having someone denegrate your position with a calumny when in the very same breath you refuse to extend to them the very courtesy you're bemoaning. At least if you did so, you could claim the moral high ground by pointing that out in such situations -- which would at least bolster the reputation of the pro-choice camp in the eyes of the undecided... and perhaps even the less vociferous among the pro-life camp.

redsock said...

LP, your argument makes sense, yet .......

The other side uses the bogus term "partial birth abortion". It is a complete fiction. It doesn't exist in medicine. Its only use is for propaganda purposes.

So even though they use the term, I never would -- and bristle when major media outlets use it freely, as though it is a normal and acceptable phrase.

The right wing is incredibly good at this.

redsock said...

... incredibly good at getting the media to adopt its wording and phrasing.

(I deleted the rest of a paragraph I had there.)

L-girl said...

That's not an applicable analogy. They're not calling people like us "towel heads".

You're right, it's not a good analogy.

Not to put too fine a point on it, these are people, both men and women, who believe that life begins at conception

But so do I. Some form of life clearly begins at conception, and I never deny it.

I don't understand how you can fail to appreciate the inherent contradiction in being upset by having someone denegrate your position with a calumny when in the very same breath you refuse to extend to them the very courtesy you're bemoaning.

Well, first of all, I'm not bemoaning it, and I'm not upset by it. I don't care what they call me. I should have made that more clear.

I can't call them pro-life for two reasons. One, I think the name is a fiction. I am every bit for life as they are.

And two, their use of that term indicates that I am, by contrast, anti-life or pro-death.

As I said, to me and many others in the pro-choice movement, the term pro-life is a highly successful public relations stunt. We don't want to use their language.

The proper terms, in my opinion, would be pro abortion rights and anti abortion rights.

Also, there's something else at work here: I don't believe most of the people in the anti-abortion-rights movement give a shit about life or fetuses or abortions. I've read their literature, I know their positions, and I think the concern for "life" is largely a load of crap. I think they are anti-woman, period.

I'm not saying there aren't people out there genuinely opposed to abortion because they believe it's killing. There clearly are. In my experience, however, those people are not anti-abortion-rights crusaders. They generally say "It's wrong, I'd never do it, but that's between a woman and her conscience." The anti-choice movement, on the other hand, is more concerned with controlling women than with "saving babies".

you could claim the moral high ground by pointing that out in such situations -- which would at least bolster the reputation of the pro-choice camp in the eyes of the undecided...

I guess I don't see that as my role, and feel no need to try.

[I'll be out for a while, if I don't respond, it's just 'cause I'm not around.]

Lone Primate said...

The proper terms, in my opinion, would be pro abortion rights and anti abortion rights.

I understand that, but step back and look at how you're spinning it. If they adopt this suggestion, they're willingly condemning themselves to the role of denying someone a right. Period. Who would willingly do that? Besides, to them, that's merely tangential to their point, which is about the right to life for the unborn child (and yes, I know that's another term you dispute; nevertheless it's how they see the world and so what matters to them). Would you agree if they wanted to characterize the debate as "pro-child and anti-child"? Of course not. But there's no denying that our point of view means that millions of conceived human beings will never get to be children. We simply have a different emphasis. And I think it's a right we all have to characterize our own views as we see fit, and in demanding that others respect that, we owe the same regard to others. I do understand what you're saying -- but I feel we owe our opponents the same courtesy we desire.

I agree with you that their point of view encompasses the loss of rights on the part of women -- both reproductive and to the security of the person. But time is on our side. It's for us to persuade. Could slavery have been ended without the Civil War? Certainly. It was, in so many countries. The entire British Empire was rid of it a generation before the Civil War thanks to the power of debate and persuasion. It's when we cease to listen, cease to respect, cease to strive to make the wisdom of our position clear, that we come to blows.

I've gone to the brink with Rob enough times to know. :)

L-girl said...

If they adopt this suggestion, they're willingly condemning themselves to the role of denying someone a right. Period. Who would willingly do that?

I'm not suggesting they adopt my language. I am merely refusing to use their language.

And I think it's a right we all have to characterize our own views as we see fit

And we characterize other's views as we see fit. I'm not suggesting for a moment that the anti-abortion-rights movement should call themselves anti-choice.

The media, however, is supposed to be more neutral. They should never have adopted a movement's loaded language. From there, "pro-life" - which is a slogan, or spin, or propaganda - became accepted nomenclature. That's what I object to.

But time is on our side.

This is not true. Not for American women, or for women in any country whose bodily integrity is threatened.

Could slavery have been ended without the Civil War? Certainly. It was, in so many countries. The entire British Empire was rid of it a generation before the Civil War thanks to the power of debate and persuasion. It's when we cease to listen, cease to respect, cease to strive to make the wisdom of our position clear, that we come to blows.

Sometimes blows are necessary to achieve one's goals. I'll leave it to others more politic than I to fight the polite battles. That's what NARAL and Planned Parenthood and all those excellent groups are for. I was fighting in the street, fighting to get real women with real pregnancies the medical care of their choice, which those women struggled for against unbelieveable obstacles (poverty, abuse, and most of all a government controlled by religious interests). On that ground level, there's little room for listening to the other side.

As I always say, I am not forcing my views on anyone. I am not trying to convince one person from the "anti" side to see things my way. And that is all I ask in return: their morality out of the laws, and the laws out of women's bodies.

sharonapple said...

But if you ever want a link, just let me know.

Okay:

http://rabbit-of-the-moon.blogspot.com/

(And I finally posted.)

Trevor said...

"Stick to your knitting" -- I've always thought that was meant to mean "stick to what you know and stop freelancing" (In this case, meaning worry about winning your own riding rather than helping the NDP candidate in mine). I never thought of it as sexist -- simply because i've always heard it used by men in reference to men (hey, I work in finance -- sorry). I happen to like both Alexa McDonough and Peter MacKay personally -- did Alexa get upset by this comment?

And to echo Wrye, private member's bills are virtually impossible to pass -- they are often brought forward in protest, or recognition etc, often before a parliament is about to go into a break, knowing they will die before even having a chance to become law (even if they could make it thru the process, which they wouldn't).