Morgentaler Clinic saved, temporarily!

The FundRazr campaign I blogged about recently has been fully funded, and New Brunswick’s only reproductive health clinic that offers abortion services has been saved from impending bankruptcy!

Canada.com reports:

The Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton is slated to close when their lease expires at the end of July due to lack of funds. Unlike every other province with private abortion clinics, the New Brunswick government refuses to provide funding for abortion services unless they are performed in a hospital and are deemed “medically necessary” by two doctors.

With time running out, more than 1,100 people have now donated more than $100,000 to a crowdfunding campaign on FundRazr.com. The group behind the campaign, Reproductive Justice NB (RJNB), plans to use the funds to negotiate a new lease agreement for the clinic’s building on Brunswick Street in Fredericton.

[Read more…]

Save the Morgentaler Clinic!

There’s a fundraiser going around to try to fund the now-broke Morgentaler Clinic, New Brunswick’s only abortion clinic. This clinic’s bankruptcy comes thanks to the laws enacted by conservative religious politicians which ensure that the only abortions that are funded by medicare (as legally required by Health Canada) are those that are approved by TWO doctors during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

The Fundrazr site says:

Please help us ensure the people of New Brunswick have access to safe abortion on demand.

Reproductive Justice New Brunswick (RJNB) is a collective of individuals from across New Brunswick dedicated to ensuring publicly funded and self-referred abortion is available in the province. We demand the repeal of NB Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1) of the Medical Services Payment Act which requires two doctors to sign off that the procedure is “medically required” and that it must be performed in a hospital by an OBGYN. As a result, the people of New Brunswick have unequal access to abortion services as compared to the rest of Canada.

The Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, New Brunswick’s only public reproductive health clinic is slated to close on July 18th 2014, resulting from this restrictive provincial legislation. As a result, New Brunswick is in a crisis situation.

The current provincial government, as well as the official opposition, refuse to take action. The current barriers to abortion set in place by the Government of New Brunswick are not only unconstitutional, they are dangerous; when abortion is restricted or difficult to access, health and wellbeing declines.

Reproductive Justice NB has begun an effort to lease the existing Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton. The collective is in discussion with the building’s owners to enter into a lease agreement and further explore options to encourage family practitioners who support a person’s right to full reproductive services, including the right to abortion. The estimate cost of the lease agreement is $100,000.

While securing a lease agreement is a bandaid solution and does not automatically mean New Brunswickers will have improved abortion access, it does give the people of New Brunswick a fighting chance to access their rights under the Charter of Rights and the Canada Health Act.

Please consider helping Reproductive Justice New Brunswick reach this important goal.

Every donation, however large or small, is one step closer to ensuring reproductive choice in New Brunswick. Unless this oppressive regulation is overturned, New Brunswickers will not have equal access to abortion services. If Reproductive Justice NB is unable to raise the full $100,000, all money raised will go towards renewed efforts to overturn the Medical Services Payment Act.

To download a fact sheet about lack of abortion access in New Brunswick, please visit choixnbchoice.org.



If you have any money to contribute to this campaign, this is as worthy a cause as any other. New Brunswick’s Morgentaler clinic has in the past vowed to provide necessary medical care to anyone in need, whether the government pays for it (as mandated by Health Canada) or not. That’s how the clinic is now in such dire straits. If you can kick in some money, please do.

If the above widget doesn’t work for whatever reason, go to the Fundrazr site.

Ontario public health policy under review, religious exception for doctors debated

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has written the current public policy, adopted by Ontario in December 2008, which binds physicians to provide Human Rights Code-mandated services without discrimination for any reason, including religious or moral beliefs of the physician.

This means that physicians cannot make decisions about whether to accept individuals as patients, whether to provide existing patients with medical care or services, or whether to end a physician-patient relationship on the basis of the individual’s or patient’s race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status and/or disability.

That code is currently being reviewed, and people are being asked to submit comment:

The College recognizes that religious and moral beliefs are central to the lives of physicians and their patients. The current policy addresses situations in which physicians’ personal, moral or religious beliefs may affect or limit the medical services they provide. The policy provides physicians with an overview of the relevant legal obligations and factors related to these situations. The policy also articulates the College’s own expectations for physicians who limit their practice, refuse to accept individuals as patients or end a physician-patient relationship on the basis of moral or religious belief.

Have Your Say

We would like to hear your thoughts on the current policy, along with suggestions you may have for how the policy could be improved.

In particular, we are interested to know:

  • Does the policy provide useful guidance?
  • Are there issues not addressed in the current policy that should be addressed? If so, what are they?
  • Are there other ways in which the policy should be improved?

Please provide your feedback by August 5, 2014.

[…]

The feedback obtained during this consultation will be carefully reviewed and used to evaluate the draft. While it may not be possible to ensure that every comment or suggested edit will be incorporated into the revised policy, all comments will be carefully considered.

Obviously, this is a cultural touchstone for reproductive rights activists, as religious folks have primarily held the anti-abortion banner and their current assault on those reproductive rights in Canada — fully legal since Morgentaler, mind you — are presently being eroded via a series of legislation changes that allow religious doctors to refuse to provide medically-indicated services that conflict with what they believe their religion contraindicates.

We can safely assume this is entirely a concern as pertains abortion, and not some other religious mandate, because not one single instance of a Jehovah’s Witness doctor refusing to give a blood transfusion has hit the press, whereas Jehovah’s Witness patients refusing blood transfusions abound (often despite legal challenges initiated by doctors).

The issue is reportedly largely being ignored in Ontario; the religiously-motivated anti-abortionists are spreading disinformation and getting a disproportionately loud voice on what channels do exist, likely owing to the word being spread through anti-abortion camps. Since we around these parts happen to believe that women deserve basic human rights and that bodily autonomy is one of those rights, I figured it might be good to get the word out and try to tip the scales back toward the only morally justifiable stance on abortion: any time, by any woman, for any reason.

You can leave feedback here, or better yet, take the online survey.

There is also a poll, which at time of writing was already heavily tipped by others’ efforts in the atheist community:

Do you think a physician should be allowed to refuse to provide a patient with a treatment or procedure because it conflicts with the physician’s religious or moral beliefs?

No (81%, 5,575 Votes)
Yes (18%, 1,247 Votes)
Don’t know (1%, 22 Votes)
Total Voters: 6,844

Feel free to tip that even further toward the side of more perfect morality, as well!

Huge tip of the hat to George Waye. Cheers, mate.

Dr Henry Morgentaler’s Legacy

I hail from New Brunswick originally. I left for university, and by the end of my degree, I had decided to remain. At the time, the government was growing more conservative, and one of their great bugaboos was the number of people moving out — their population was essentially in free-fall.

Granted, the population wasn’t exactly huge to begin with. It had declined from 738,133 in 1996, to 729,498 in 2001 — a loss of 1.2%. It stagnated through 2006 — 729,997. The government started making noises about enticing emigrants, about stabilizing the job market and doing something about its flagging tech sector; there was a big to-do about this decline, to be sure. And the population began to swell again, to 751,171 in 2011.

In late 2013, another population decline — a mere 1000 person shortfall — caused another huge stir, such that the “Progressive” Conservative legislature under leader David Alward lamented the possibility of only seeing his grandchildren through Skype.

In the wake of that first scare, followed by the more recent revelation that outmigration is skyrocketing, it’s no surprise that the conservative New Brunswick political scene voted for the “Medical Services Payment Act”, Regulation 84-20, which had a bomb in it for abortion services. Now, throughout the province, abortions are no longer funded by the government as mandated by Health Canada, unless certified by TWO doctors as being “medically necessary”. How else are you going to swell your numbers except to force women to give birth?

As a result of this abrogation of women’s right to bodily autonomy, the Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton — founded by the legendary Dr. Henry Morgentaler himself — is forced to close.

The rules of the clinic were set up such that nobody who needed abortion services would be turned away under any circumstances, and because the government stiffed them on the bills and they took a huge loss last year, they have to close up shop.

Back in 2009, Carl Urquhart, a Conservative MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly, the Canadian equivalent of a congressman) suggested with regard to the population decline that women should be making more babies, a statement he posted on Facebook that he’d later walked back. He was especially chastised for this in light of the province’s growing teenage pregnancy problem.

That’s about as transparent a reasoning as you can get for Conservatives’ anti-choice efforts. It was a refreshing moment of honesty from that party.

And this huge success in the fight to control what people can and cannot do with their reproductive organs comes just shy of a year after Dr. Henry Morgentaler — founder of the clinic — died of a heart attack. Morgentaler’s efforts practically single-handedly won the fight for safe, legal abortion nation-wide in 1988 with his appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, where they overturned the whole of the Canadian abortion law as unconstitutional. The man was a lion for women’s rights, human rights, and reproductive freedom. And his legacy is being rent before our eyes.

Women can still theoretically get abortions in hospitals — providing they get two doctors to sign off on the “medically necessary” waiver — but as this map shows, access to abortion didn’t come with its newfound legality. When your government tightly controls the demand for babies, you can force the supply by restricting access to any choice but becoming a baby-factory.

You might understandably make the mistake that the “demand” is actually for abortions, but then you’d be misunderstanding the directionality of these laws. In the fight for women’s bodily autonomy, the uterus is actually the supply, and the government apparently gets to make the demands.

For what it’s worth, here’s the state of the struggle for abortion rights through Canada. You’ll note that almost no place in Canada actually has access to an abortion clinic or hospital within a reasonable travel time, and that the gestation limits are terribly restrictive in a number of cases — some as low as 12 weeks, like New Brunswick. Many provinces have absolutely no access to abortions, medical or otherwise.

This fight is hardly won, despite it being unconstitutional to restrict abortions, and despite it being both legal and defined explicitly by Health Canada.

Skepticon: Not my Canadian pride!

Debbie Goddard fired a shot across Canada’s bow, viciously savaging us during her talk at Skepticon where she related her deconversion. She said — I am horrified to even have to type this; someone fetch my couch! — that we’re “not really foreign.”

More specifically, she related her experience visiting Oslo, where she was in “for the first time in a really foreign country, not like Canada”.

The GALL. The unmitigated NERVE!!! What a HORRIBLE thing to say to a Canadian! I cannot stand for this. No Canadian could. Now, on behalf of all of Canada, I am forced to apologize!

Wait, no, not apologize. Explain. Prepare yourselves, I’m about to Cansplain all over this.
[Read more…]

River City Ransom: Underground kickstarter

Holy shitting fuck, you guys have to see this. There’s a kickstarter by some indie devs by the name of Conatus Creative, with a not insignificant amount of Canadian developers, has the official license for an honest-to-goodness sequel to the king of 8-bit fighters, River City Ransom.

Their goal is met for Apple, Linux and Windows development, but they have flex goals for consoles. And you could get your name in the game — or your likeness, or your favorite quote — by funding at one of their higher tiers.

I totally wish I had the dosh to throw at this right now. I cannot wait to see this game. The Scott Pilgrim homage was good, but it wasn’t quite all I was hoping a modern RCR would be. This, on the other hand, would be 24 hour gameathon fodder.

(If you don’t know what the original was, here’s a great review, proving the vlogger, PixellatedMemories, eerily prescient by the end.)

Hat tip to David Rolfe who knew me well enough to know this was right up my alley.

Michael Enright: Atheists, you’re not being silenced, so stop talking about it!

A reader forwarded me this via email as a sort of quick-bloggy bit of material, I suspect at least in part to get me blog just to prove I’m still alive. So, here we are!

Michael Enright, of CBC’s venerable The Sunday Edition, has decided to take on one group that’s really overreaching, that’s already gotten all the attention it deserves, that’s been given all the deference it could want and yet still keeps grasping for more: atheists. Seriously, can you think of another group that’s already won all its campaigns to be allowed to exist in peace and yet keeps, you know, talking about how horrible it is to be them, to have to play second-fiddle to all the overprivileged people in our society? Nope, none, just atheists!

He starts out by electing Richard Dawkins as our pope.

If the atheists of the world could ever organize themselves into a non-religious church, their first Pope would undoubtedly be Richard Dawkins.

Yeah, off to a GREAT start.
[Read more…]

Tell Canadian senators not to pass “Pope Day” bill!

Theobromine of CFI Canada, regular commenter here and elsewhere on FtB, passed along this change.org petition asking the Canadian government to reconsider the private member bill which has passed the House of Commons on its third reading, and is now apparently in the Senate. The bill would honour Pope John Paul II, who attempted to intervene with Chretien and gay marriage, who spent his 25 years as pope furthering the Catholic causes of undermining human rights worldwide, who misspent those same 25 years doing absolutely zero for the children being abused under his watch, with a designated day of celebration in his name.

Bill C-266 is a Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga East—Cooksville). It recently passed third reading in the House of Commons, and is currently before the Senate (more information here).

By signing this petition to oppose Bill C-266, you are showing your commitment to the principles of human rights for all, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, and gender. An email will be sent to Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella, and James Cowan, leader of the opposition in the Senate. We encourage you to contact other members of the Senate, by phone, email, or post – contact information is here.

You can find a record of how MPs voted on this bill here.   We encourage you to thank your MP for voting “NAY” or to protest your MP’s “YEA” vote; MPs’ contact information is here.

To:
Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate
Honourable James S. Cowan, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate
Honourable James S. Cowan, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

The designation of a day for Canada to officially recognize Pope John Paul II is inconsistent with the goals and values established and promoted by the Government of Canada.
While John Paul II was a charismatic figure, his record as leader of the Catholic Church is full of scandal and poor management. Barbara Blaine, head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) group, points out, “In more than 25 years as the most powerful religious figure on the planet, John Paul II did almost nothing to safeguard kids.”
Pope John Paul vigorously supported the Catholic Church’s opposition to contraception, abortion and homosexuality. He personally intervened to advise Jean Chretien against introducing legislation to allow same-sex marriage. His edicts against condom use undermined worldwide public health efforts to control the spread of AIDS.
For these reasons, I ask you to refuse to pass Bill C-266, the bill that would that establish April 2nd as Pope John Paul II Day in Canada.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

I can’t stress enough how odious and antithetical to the causes of humanitarianism and charity and every positive trait the worldwide community knows of Canada as a country. Honouring the past Pope would undermine everything we claim to hold dear as Canadian citizens. Go vote. I’m doing so, as a genuinely concerned Canadian citizen who dearly wants my nation to uphold my values, even if I’m not living in the country any more.

I signed the following:

Everything Pope John Paul II stood for is antithetical to Canadian values. His views on so-called moral issues like abortion, homosexuality and AIDS were anti-science, anti-reality, and anathema to more enlightened views on how society should interact ethically. I see no reason, except as a sop to religious sentiments, why a “Pope Day” would in any way be a good fit for Canada or for Canadians. I think honouring people for their stances against basic human rights and civil liberties is blinkered, and the MPs who voted for this should be ashamed of themselves.

Humanist Views: Canada and Humanism

Last night, I taped an episode of Humanist Views with Scott Lohman of Humanists of Minnesota.

I haven’t had a chance to re-watch it and see exactly how I present on this program — I’m sure there are verbal missteps in there, and I just hope I didn’t say anything egregiously offensive to anyone. I do know that the lights were very warm and very bright, and I got the very distinct sense that my thin head fuzz wasn’t enough to keep it from being reflective. I did check to see that voices and movement aligns later in the re-encode, so at least it should be watchable. I think I turned on automatic closed captioning (I’m a Youtoob noob), so that’ll be a fun reason to re-watch it later.

Humanist Views’ opening sequence is very hilariously 90s, but that just makes ‘em all the more charming to me.