This is a belated Blogging For Choice article. Yesterday members of the Progressive Bloggers joined their American counterparts in Blogging For Choice.
While Americans focus on Roe vs Wade in Canada the Supreme Court ruled more broadly in abolishing abortion as a crime. This year is the 20th anniversary of that decision. And it took an American campaign to draw Canadian bloggers attention to this fact. While the media have covered the 2oth Anniversary of this historic decision the Pro Choice movement in Canada, such as it is, remains silent, and politically absent from the ensuing debate.
On the other hand the Anti-Choice advocates have used it to renew calls for the Federal Government to limit abortions using the back door of a private members bill to make it a double crime of murder when a mother and her unborn child are both killed.
Any reference to this latest attack on a womans right to chose abortion was sadly lacking in most of the posts at Progressive Bloggers. Focusing again on Roe vs. Wade rather than the 1988 Canadian decision. At least the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has provided some talking points on "Unborn Victims of Violence Act."
The Pro-Choice movement basically died twenty years ago with the SC decision. Feminists in CARAL the Canadian counter part to NARAL the American Pro Choice lobby, folded up their Abortion Rights tent and moved on to other issues; pornography, violence against women, etc.
And what did Canadian women get with the SC decision, well not access to publicly funded abortion that's for sure. What they got was privatized abortion clinics run by Dr. Morgentaler. In fact Morgentaler has always been an advocate for privatized medicine, he has always claimed his clinics deliver abortion services better than public hospitals. Ironic that. And where provinces or publicly funded hospitals did not provide abortion services, such as those hospitals run by the Catholic Church, Canadian women were still forced to go to the U.S. to get abortions.
Such was the case in Alberta for many years, and still is today. There are no abortions done in Alberta hospitals, instead Alberta Health Care contracts out the operation to Morgentaler's clinics, but does not pay his full fee.
There is an irony for you. Morgentaler has long advocated the neo-con idea of private medical services being better than publicly provided ones, his right wing opponents, as well as his feminist proponents, miss his nuanced fiscal conservatism. The right wing abandons its fiscal conservatism in favour of a political morality driven by the Church. The left wing mutes any criticism of Morgentalers pro privatization pitch because they favour a womans right to choose.
Well heck why not support the right to choose home-schooling, or the right to choose to belong to a union, or well you get the idea. Logical consistency on either side of the debate is seriously lacking.
The failure of the libertarian right in Canada was to allow the social conservatives to take this issue from them. Instead of defending a womans right to choose, and to embrace Morgentaler's private clinic alternative they instead abandoned themselves to the neo-cons and paleo-cons.
The failure of the Left and the Feminist movement was to embrace abortion and Morgentaler as single issues. Once the Supreme Court decision passed, there was no cause any longer. Instead of broadening the Pro Choice movement to include all aspects of womens reproductive rights including the right to sex education, contraception, birthing alternatives such as mid-wifery, etc. Instead as we have seen CARAL devolved into the Abortion Rights Coalition.
Womens Reproductive Rights are far broader than just abortion. It includes also the right to choose birthing options. Provinces that had restrictive access to abortion also in many cases failed to paid for Midwives. Such was the case in Alberta for many years. Linking these two issues together shows that womens health is a public health issue. The right to publicly funded medical services.
Various benefit plans in unionized work places are also affected when it comes to womens reproductive choices. Those that cover Catholic public services and public sector workers will not allow payment for contraceptives or abortions, leaving women to have to pay out of pocket for these essential medical services. Yet unions are silent on this issue afraid to challenge the service providers because of the ensuing controversial debate it will cause in the membership.
We may have come a long way twenty years ago, but in the ensuing twenty years we have not gone anywhere when it comes to providing publicly funded abortions in our hospitals.
In effect what this has meant is that in Canada there are more third month terminations than ever before. And issue that the social conservatives make much hay with. Or attempt to. Not because of the Supreme Court decision but because the left and feminist movement abandoned the fight to demand publicly funded abortions be covered by medicare and preformed in our publicly funded hospitals rather than in Morgentaler's private clinics.
The Libertarian Right in Canada abandoned the fight in the right wing mileux as well, they abandoned a key individual right, a woman's right to choose, in order to align with their neo-con and social conservative allies to gain political power at any cost. As can be seen with the launch of this new non-religious right wing anti-abortion lobby.
The right to choose is broader than just the right to choose an abortion it is the right to choose to have sex or not, to have safe sex, to have access to public humanist sex education, to have access to contraception for men and women, to have birthing choices, to have the right to have reproductive medical services fully paid for by Medicare or by benefit plans, etc. A new movement is needed in Canada to demand these rights a movement of the libertarian Left and Right.
"Love, work and knowledge are the well-springs of our life. They should also govern it."
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The Sexual Revolution Continues
Unsafe Abortions Continue
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Abortion Not A Sin
Grandmother of Second Wave Feminism Dies
Right to Life = Right To Work
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