must-watch video: how canadian women won abortion rights and what we must do to keep them

The Harper anti-choice brigade is back in the news, this time taking aim at a different abortion controversy to try to chip away at our fundamental rights.

Wladyslaw Lizon - sadly, the MP for my own riding - is holding forth against later-term procedures. (You may remember Lizon's name through his memorable Islamophobia, which caused Jason Kenney to forbid the wearing of niqabs during citizenship ceremonies.) When it comes to later-term abortions, don't be fooled. The overwhelming majority of abortion procedures in Canada are performed in the first trimester of pregnancy. In the tiny minority performed later, the fetus is either dead or non-viable, or the woman's life is being endangered by the pregnancy. Women needing later-term abortions are usually in dire circumstances, mourning the loss of a wanted pregnancy. Even if a Canadian woman wanted to obtain a late-term abortion on a healthy fetus, she could never find a doctor to perform it.

But whether it's sex-selected abortion, later-term abortions, or violence against pregnant women, it's always the same strategy: find a wedge, misrepresent the issue for broad appeal, and try to drive it in, using private members' bills so that Harper can still claim to not be reopening the abortion debate. But when the most powerful MP in the House of Commons, the de facto Deputy Prime Minister, votes in favour of one of these bills, just who do they think they're fooling?

The frightening truth is that they may be fooling many people. These proposed restrictions appeal to many people who are nominally pro-choice but still squeamish about abortion in some circumstances. But it doesn't matter if they approve, if you approve, or if I approve. Women's basic human rights - the right to bodily integrity and security of person - cannot be conditional on public whim. The right to abortion must be absolute, and subject to no one's approval.

Pro-choice Canadians need to educate themselves and others on these anti-abortion-by-stealth threats - why they are real, and why we must continue to push back against them.

This week I attended an inspiring event co-sponsored by Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics and University of Toronto Medical Students for Choice: a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision, which legalized abortion in Canada. Innis Hall was packed to the rafters, with people listening in the hallway, unable to fit in the room.

We heard a series of terrific speakers, and watched the film "The Life and Times of Dr. Henry Morgentaler". All the speakers were great; I wouldn't have missed any of them. But this woman, my friend and comrade Carolyn Egan, brought down the house.

Please watch, and please share. And please, defend your rights.

I highly recommend watching all these videos!

Jillian Bardsley, Medical Students for Choice, Toronto Chapter, on Canada's lack of abortion providers, and what students are doing about it

Michele Landsberg, author, former columnist for Toronto Star, instrumental in writing about abortion and other feminist issues

Angela Robinson, Women's College Hospital, on anti-abortion by stealth, and how she found the movement

Author and activist Judy Rebick, with memories of working alongside Dr. Morgentaler, as "the girl from the clinic," and the widespread public support for their work. I know of Judy as the founding editor of Rabble.ca and as an anti- Israeli apartheid activist, but I hadn't known her vital role in the movement to legalize abortion in Canada.

To get involved:

Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada

Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics

Canadians for Choice

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