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.

David Silverman’s “Darwin Was Wrong” Moment

Surely New Scientist’s terrible choice in creating the “Darwin Was Wrong” cover happened not so long ago that the skeptical community has forgotten the sturm und drang that rightly came after it. And yet, here we are.

To explain: the science rag’s cover was designed to tease an article wherein the phylogenetic “tree” shape is explained to be less accurate than the more web-like structure with speciation and cross-pollination that we now understand to be the case today. So, Darwin was wrong, yes — but he was not wrong about evolution. And yet to this day, you will find creationists who use that misleading cover to suggest that evolution did not happen, therefore God. Despite being technically correct, the messaging was so poor as to cause splash damage, and atheists and skeptics were pretty mad despite the right-on-a-technicality nature of the problem.

So it’s honestly surprising to me that so many people are so bent out of shape over David Silverman’s poor messaging very recently at CPAC — no, not the people who are upset that what he said caused splash damage to women and was worth criticizing. I mean, the people who are bent out of shape over the CRITICISMS of such.
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Last-second sanity from Texas on abortion restriction law!

Well this is some heartening news.

Less than 24 hours before new abortion regulations were set to take effect in Texas, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel on Monday blocked implementation of one provision challenged by abortion providers and partially blocked a second provision, ruling that they could place an undue burden on women and are therefore unconstitutional.

In his opinion, Yeakel wrote that a provision of House Bill 2 that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility “places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her.”

Yeah, considering most abortion doctors have to come in from out of state, no kidding it’s an undue burden on women. But that’s how the religious want it — rights for clumps of cells who could potentially become religious, and no rights for these clumps of cells’ incubators.

Nice that something that’s clearly unconstitutional is getting slapped down as such.

Update: Well never mind then. A conservative judge just reinstated the unconstitutional crap and now over a dozen facilities will have to close.

Lila Rose, anti-abortionist, tries to steal Malala Yousafzai’s activist cred

If you ever decide to unironically compare yourself to a civil rights activist who has risked everything and (almost) lost it all while fighting for, say, a woman’s right to be educated, and your cause is as patently uncivil as preventing women from choosing what to do with their bodies, expect to get laughed at and mocked. A lot.

Especially the moreso when the person you’re comparing yourself to got shot in the head for wanting the right to intellectual autonomy, with a bullet grazing her brain and coming within millimetres of killing her, and you’ve never seen real danger in your entire goddamn life and yet you’re fighting for a cluster of cells less than a millimetre across to have more rights over a woman’s bodily autonomy than the woman herself. All because you did a guerilla video campaign for Live Action, undercutting Planned Parenthood, which is as feminist an organization as has ever gotten national traction. Slow fucking clap.

I bet she didn’t ever say “Yousafzai” because she doesn’t know how. I bet, in fact, she knows almost nothing about Malala Yousafzai or her fight, except what someone told her would make good speech fodder.

Found at Right Wing Watch.

Canadian abortion rights doctor Morgentaler dead at 90

Doctor Henlek “Henry” Morgentaler, Polish-born Canadian immigrant, has died of a heart attack on May 29th, 2013. He was a Nazi prison camp survivor, and became a physician and family planning doctor in Montreal in 1955. He presented a brief to the House of Commons in 1967 about illegal abortions, arguing that women had the right to safe, legal ones. He eventually began performing abortions in 1968. He was physically assaulted and jailed in Canada numerous times for his advocacy, but ultimately vindicated by society.
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Gates Foundation attempts to end the anti-birth-control debate in one video

Well, the whole idea of female autonomy and saving women’s lives rather than forcing them into forming babbys that they don’t necessarily want or can’t necessarily take care of is great for those of us who honestly care about humanitarian efforts. Those of us who’d prefer that these unexpected children go on to become uneducated religious zealots thanks to the evisceration of the education system, however, might not actually see the value in the humanitarian argument.

I have to say this to get it out of the way though, as part of my nerd contract: I still think Windows sucks. Glad you’re doing something quite useful with your money, Bill. It’s only my preexisting prejudices that incline me to credit Melinda instead.

Fischer: Women can make more difference in the world by staying home

I have to stop following this guy’s nonsense. It’s just not good for my blood pressure.

Hear that ladies? Barefoot and pregnant and pouring the word of God in your kids’ ears is how you’ll change this world. Forget about all that participating in society, working, voting or having dreams or aspirations of your own, get back in the kitchen and bake something for your family instead. And hurry up about it, it’s almost bible study time. Also, stop trying to go find a job — you can’t be working in your delicate (e.g. pregnant) condition.

MP Stephen Woodworth won’t answer a simple question about rape and abortion

The question in question is, “if a woman is raped, do you support her right to an abortion?”

Woodworth’s the guy that’s trying to reopen the abortion debate as a private member proposal despite Harper’s campaign promise that the present abortion laws would not be revisited yet again. So, with tacit approval from his party — who, while they aren’t backing him explicitly, certainly are more than willing to allow the debate to happen, and with their steamroller house numbers would almost certainly win if they voted in lockstep with their party — here we go again. Expect no engagement on the topic in parliament, since that’s well out of fashion these days. But expect at the same time some heavy trolling on the internet to make it seem like there’s popular support. Not that the populace brought this forward, or are encouraging it.

Oh sure, he’ll engage personally with people like Steve Thoms (SomeCndnSkeptic) on Twitter for weeks on end, getting science wrong, getting the law wrong, getting simple words wrong, and smearing opponents as being like Bashar al-Assad, dictator of Syria.

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RCimT: Saturday tab clean-up

Got a bunch of stuff that’s been in tabs for a while that need clearing out, but that deserve to be seen. Might as well do another Random Crap in my Tabs to catch up, and take back some system resources. A bunch of it is meme-worthy, so I expect you’ve probably seen them before. Maybe even on FtB. Possibly. Frankly, I’m too lazy to check, and either way, I know I haven’t talked about them, so you’re certainly missing my keen insight!
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