Niki Ashton: In Solidarity with the New Brunswick Pro Choice National Day of Action

April 26th, 2014 – 7:37pm

Today I shared this message with the rallies happening across the country in solidarity with New Brunswick Pro-Choice advocates.

On behalf of my proudly pro-choice caucus members, I want to thank you for being on the Hill today in solidarity with the women of New Brunswick, the women of Prince Edward Island and the women all across this country who cannot access their legal right to choose.

Merci pour votre lutte et pour votre solidarité avec les femmes du Nouveau Brunswick, de l’ile du Prince Édouard et de partout au pays.

Today we are clear that the right to choose means that abortion services must be accessible for all Canadian women, regardless of income, region, or province.

Prime Minister Harper has told us that he won’t reopen the issue of abortion. But we know from the US that the way these Conservatives choose to erode abortion rights is to deny women fair access.

The Harper Government’s attack on choice has been long standing. They have attacked Planned Parenthood, cut funding to sexual health clinics and services, and implemented a vehemently anti-choice agenda at the international level. Here in Parliament, a Conservative backbencher puts forward his anti-choice agenda every few weeks. And despite his pronouncements, this Prime Minister has gone as far as appointing an anti-choice Minister of Status of Women who is now the Minister of Health.

But Canadian women and men are clear. The right to choose is a woman’s right. And women’s rights are human rights.

And YOU have been clear – we are not prepared to roll the clock back on Canadian women. Because of your pressure, together, we have stopped anti-choice efforts in Parliament time and time again.

But we must continue to fight back. Minister Ambrose and her Government are all too happy to sit by while regressive governments in New Brunswick and PEI deny women their right to abortion services.

Today, I am asking you to help us bring this fight to the Federal Government. It is the duty of Minister Ambrose, the Minister of Health to intervene immediately to ensure that the Canada Health Act is enforced in the province of New Brunswick and the Province of PEI.

Ainsi, nous demandons à la ministre de la Santé d’intervenir directement en appliquant la Loi canadienne sur la santé et en collaborant avec les provinces afin de faire en sorte que toutes les Canadiennes aient accès à des services d’avortement.

Exigeons que le gouvernement fédéral garantisse un accès sûr aux services d’avortement pour les femmes de partout au pays. Envoyons des letter, des tweet à la Ministre. Signez la petition qui se partage sur la colline aujourd’hui.

Let’s let the Minister of Health know that we demand immediate Federal action. Send her letters. Send her tweets. And sign the petition that’s being shared on the Hill today.

We will not stop. And we cannot stop until it is clear that all Canadian women, no matter who they are or where they live have access to their rights, including their right to choose.

Thank you. Merci.

In solidarity,

Niki Ashton
NDP MP for Churchill
Critic for the Status of Women

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Regional Committees in Solidarity with New Brunswick

Organizers around the issue are forming regional committees to plan actions in solidarity with those on the ground in New Brunswick. To get involved in your city, contact:

Toronto: Peggy Cooke – pedgehog [at] gmail [dot] com

Montreal: Julie Michaud – julie [dot] l [dot] michaud [at] gmail [dot] com

PEI: Colleen MacQuarrie – cmacquarrie [at] upei [dot] ca

Halifax/NS: Martha Paynter – martha [dot] paynter [at] gmail [dot] com

If your city isn’t listed and you’d like to head up a committee, contact us at choixprochoice [at] gmail [dot] com

 

No, Shame on YOU, New Brunswick!

by Melanie Mackenzie

Abortions weren’t completely legal in Canada until 1988, but my Grandmother had hers in the early fifties. We’re not sure when and we can only guess at her reasons, but we do know she survived an illegal abortion and was able to have two children afterwards. For that, we know she was very lucky.

Soon, some women in Atlantic Canada may not be so fortunate.

The Morgentaler abortion clinic in Fredericton was opened, funded and operated by Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a Holocaust survivor and a champion of women’s rights. It is the only private abortion facility east of Montreal and due to a lack of government funding, it is closing this year. This is important to the women of Atlantic Canada because New Brunswick has some of the most restrictive laws in the country regarding women’s right to choose. (And PEI won’t perform abortions at all.)

With the closing of the clinic, women who are faced with an unwanted pregnancy will meet extreme challenges, not unlike those of my Grandmother. Grandma might have had it easier, even. She did not need to find and convince two doctors (in a province with an extreme doctor shortage) to write permission slips deeming her abortion “medically necessary.” She did not need to travel for hours and cross provincial lines to obtain an abortion and while she might have had to pay an exorbitant amount, she was lucky enough to have those resources at her disposal. Without the two doctors’ notes, New Brunswick hospitals charge between 700-850 dollars; an amount that for many woman, can seem practically impossible to obtain.
My Grandmother was lucky. So was I.

An abortion in Nova Scotia is covered by our tax dollars. You have to get an ultrasound and endure being pregnant for about two months, but all I had to say to my doctor was, “I’m pregnant and I don’t want to be,” and it was done. I didn’t have to explain my reasons to her, nor do I have to explain them to you, dear reader.

My body is none of your goddamn business.

The abortion itself was unbelievably uncomfortable, but relatively painless. The nurses were gentle, compassionate and thorough. (And they deserve everything they ask for, Premier McNeil.) They allowed me to squeeze their hand to the point of breaking and smiled gently as they saw through my weak attempts at humour when I tried to make light of a situation that felt very heavy.

Being pregnant is a funny thing, especially if you don’t want to be. Even more so if you’ve decided to terminate it. Not much changes. You still smoke, even though your body abhors it. You drink just as much, more even, hoping for a whiskey-miscarriage, and you continue not to shop for cribs and baby blankets and tiny things, just like before. The only thing that really changes is your view of the world because you begin to understand how the world will now view you. You have a secret that a lot of people will hate you for. Your opportunities and choices are illegal in a large part of the world and you know that doctors who perform abortions are being murdered and that people are willing to kill, just so that you produce a life. Not so that you can, but so that you will.

I have never regretted my decision to abort. Even as I lay in that hospital room, I knew I was making the right choice. You might argue that abortion kills a life, but in my opinion, it saved two; mine and the one I wouldn’t have been able to properly care for. I will admit, however, that being pro-choice in no way prepared me for actually making the choice. To say those two months were hard would be a gross understatement.

After months of reflection, I’ve realised that it wasn’t the abortion that upset me so much; it was this shadow of shame I was now supposed to live under that made me cry. In my small, sheltered and privileged view of the world, an abortion wasn’t supposed to happen to me. I hadn’t been close with anyone who had one before and even though I was confident in my decision to terminate the pregnancy, part of me was stubbornly refusing to admit that having ‘Abortion’ on my life’s resume was ok. It was, I thought, something to be ashamed of.
After confiding to a few friends about my ’delicate condition,’ I was shocked to find out that almost everyone knew someone who had at least one abortion. I didn’t feel it would be polite to approach these women and say, “Hey, lady! I heard you had an abortion! I’m scheduled for the 22nd, what’s the deal?” But I wish that I could have.

Abortions used to be a ‘back-alley’ procedure and in a way, they still are. We are not allowed to talk about them, except for back-alley whispers and the silence that surrounds women’s experiences is just another form of oppression that we encounter. By not being able to talk about our abortions, we are saying that we are ashamed of them. By staying silent, we are encouraging the systematic disgrace that makes it possible for wonderful institutions like The Morgentaler abortion clinic to not get the funding they need.

I am no longer ashamed of my abortion but I am angry that some of you expect me to be. My abortion happened about a week before Canada Day, and I have never been so proud to be Canadian. I cried and proudly sang my national anthem, grateful to live in a place where I had a right to bodily autonomy. My abortion was free, safe and legal. My choices for how I live my life were not impeded by misogynistic laws that attempt to control women’s bodies and lives.
I say attempt, because the government can only stop safe abortions. They cannot and will never be able to make a determined woman have a child she does not want. Do they want women resorting to coat hangers again? A once commonly used method to stop unwanted pregnancies was to pump Lysol into a woman’s womb. Is this the direction New Brunswick had in mind when they chose to uphold Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2? That’s the Medical Care Act that defines whether a procedure is entitled to be funded by tax dollars or not. This act shoves abortions into the same category as correcting an inverted nipple or being fitted for contact lenses. (It is interesting to note that the reversal of vasectomies is also considered unworthy of your tax dollars, but vasectomies are.)

This hypocritical system that says not only is it ok for men to never want children, but the choice will be his own and the tax payer will fund it. I hate to grasp at moot straws, but I think if men were able to become pregnant every time they had sex, abortions would have been free, rampant and legal long ago.

New Brunswick and PEI are using archaic mentalities in the running of their provinces and both provincial governments should be ashamed at themselves for their illegal, discriminatory and completely outrageous treatment of their citizens.

Whether a woman chooses to abort because she is in an unstable time in her life, her partner is abusive, it was a result of rape or simply she doesn’t want to be a mom, it is none of your business. NB’s Official Opposition Liberal leader Brian Gallant says that he’s pro-choice. Great. Good for him. But it doesn’t fucking matter. Governments are elected by the people with expectations that they will uphold the law and ABORTION IS LEGAL. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that if women’s capacity to reproduce is to be subject not to her own control, but to that of the state, it would be a breach of the woman’s right to security of person. The Supreme Court ruled in 1988 (thanks to R. Vs. Morgentaler; there he is again, God, I love that man) that to force a woman to carry a fetus unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations is unconstitutional.

When an arrogant radio talk show host was recently asked why abortion was legal in the first place, he replied, ‘It’s legal because the Supreme Court ruled it so.’ He missed the point. Abortion is legal because the Supreme Court recognized women as people, not vessels. Women do not have to be mothers. We can be anything we want to be, whether that is an astronaut, a sex worker, a stay-at-home mom or single. Despite all our gains, women are still mentally stuck in my Grandmothers generation, “Be polite and don’t talk about certain things in polite company.“
Well, I will be kind, but I will no longer be silent.

If my abortion offends you, then don’t have one. I won’t make you, I promise. I won’t stand outside your maternity ward with signs saying that you will go to hell. I won’t judge your decision and I won’t intimidate you or make you feel guilty. I just want you to feel happy and secure in the choices you make and expect that you would have the same respect for me.

***

Melanie Mackenzie would have not done this without the love and support from her friends, her man, her family and all the incredible women around her who have given her strength. (Their love is stronger than your hate.)​

Call out for abortion stories

A national media outlet has approached Simone, the Director of the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic, with a request for women to share their experiences accessing abortion services at the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic. They have assured her that anyone doing so would remain anonymous, and only their stories and an anonymized picture would be used for an upcoming story.

 
Simone and Kathleen, a member of ChoixNBChoice, are asking that anyone interested to contact them for a brief discussion before committing to be interviewed. This is obviously a sensitive subject, and we want to ensure that anyone volunteering has all the information about the process and is prepared for any questions that might arise.

 
If interested, please email Simone at (506) 451-9060 or nbclinic@nb.aibn.com or Kathleen at Kathleen.m.pye1984@gmail.com.

#NBProChoice Rallies!

Rallies being held in solidarity with New Brunswick this week:

 

Fredericton, NB – Thursday, April 17 at 12:30pm

Legislative building, 706 Queen St.

RSVP on Facebook

 

Toronto, ON – Thursday, April 17 at 5:30pm

Yonge-Dundas Square

RSVP on Facebook

 

St. John’s, NFLD – Friday, April 18 at 9:00am

Health Sciences Centre

RSVP on Facebook

 

Halifax, NS – Saturday, April 19 at 1:00pm

Victoria Park

RSVP on Facebook

 

Ottawa, ON – Saturday, April 26 at 2:00pm

Parliament Hill

RSVP on Facebook

 

Montreal, QC – Saturday, April 26 at 2:00pm

Place Émilie-Gamelin (Berri Square)

RSVP on Facebook

 

Charlottetown, PEI – Thursday, May 8 at 1:00pm

Province House

RSVP on Facebook

 

 

Any others? Share in comments or email choixprochoice@gmail.com

What You Can Do

This is a living, growing list – please continue to check back, and add ideas in comments!

– Stay in touch:  Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and tumblr, email us at choixprochoice@gmail.com

Donate to the #NBProChoice organizing efforts through ARCC – or mail a cheque to:

Reproductive Justice NB
PO Box 761, Station A
Fredericton, NB
E3B 5B4

Call and email New Brunswick Premier David Alward: 506-453-2144; premier@gnb.ca

Call and email New Brunswick Health Minister Hugh Flemming: 506-457-4800, Hugh.Flemming@gnb.ca

Sign the petition demanding New Brunswick publicly fund abortion

Organize a rally in your city

Write to your Member of Parliament and Health Minister Rona Ambrose to demand they put pressure on New Brunswick to repeal the illegal restrictions; you can use this sample letter

Write a letter to the editor of your local (or national) newspaper in support of access to abortion in New Brunswick

Tweet your solidarity with the hashtag #NBProChoice

Submit a picture of yourself holding a sign of solidarity to the tumblr

Share your abortion story

Tell everyone you know about this issue!

If you have more ideas, share them in comments or email us at choixprochoice@gmail.com

 

Link Round-Up * Liens pertinents

Some news and reactions to the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic closure * Plusieurs articles et réactions ont été publiés en réponse à l’annonce de la fermeture de la Clinique Morgentaler. Voici une liste de liens pertinents :

NEWS * NOUVELLES

Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic to close, Reproductive justice group forms (NB Media Co-op)

Canadian abortion clinic closes its doors (Al-Jazeera)

Morgentaler abortion clinic in Fredericton to close (CBC)

RAW: Out-of-province abortions (CBC)

Politicians Weigh In On Access In Abortion To New Brunswick (CHSJ)

La clinique d’avortement Morgentaler ferme ses portes (Acadie Nouvelle)

Clinique Morgentaler : Entrevue avec Michèle Caron (Le Réveil, Radio-Canada)

Fermeture de la clinique d’avortement Morgentaler à Fredericton : une situation déplorée par de nombreux organismes au pays (Radio-Canada)

Inquiétude et indignation devant la fermeture de la clinique Morgentaler (Le Devoir)

Fermeture de la clinique Morgentaler de Fredericton pour raisons financières (La Presse)

Abortion Clinic Closure, Disarming Police, Your Feedback (CBC Maritime Noon)

New Brunswick government faces more calls to change abortion regulations (Vancouver Sun)

Morgentaler clinic closure prompts thousands to sign petition (CBC)

Response to the Morgentaler Clinic closure (From the Margins)

Rally for accessible abortions in NB in pictures and audio (From the Margins/NB Media Co-op)

BLOGS

If Not Now, Then When? (Anti-Choice is Anti-Awesome)

Fredericton’s Morgentaler Clinic Is Closing, And Here’s Why You Should Care (The Belle Jar)

Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic Forced to Close. How You Can Help (Gender Focus)

Ten reasons why the closure of Morgentaler Clinic matters (rabble)

What You Can Do to Fight For the Morgentaler Clinic (Huffington Post)

L’avortement, intervention politico-religieuse (Mon Doux : Un blog de Rosella Melanson)

Fermeture de la clinique Morgentaler à Fredericton (ONF/Blogue)

Fermeture de la seule clinique privée d’avortement Morgentaler du Nouveau-Brunswick: clinique inaugurée en 1998. (Association canadienne des libertés civiles / Romeo Eric Mbourangon)

If Fredericton’s Morgentaler Clinic Closes, Women Will Die (Huffington Post)

Abortion in New Brunswick: It’s Time (DAMMIT JANET!)

New Brunswick Morgentaler Clinic closure: Time to act is now! (rabble)

Ça Va De Soi (Astheure)

Y’a plus que la question Morgentaler (Mon doux)

L’avortement, intervention politico-religieuse (Mon doux)

This is my rally cry: Because in New Brunswick, ‘liberty’ is yours if you don’t have a uterus (Fem2.0)

The closure of the clinic and the rule of law (Institute for Feminist Legal Studies Osgoode)

For those who fight for abortion rights in N.B., a love letter (YWCA Moncton)

PRESS RELEASES *COMMUNIQUÉS DE PRESSE

Le RFNB craint pour l’accès à l’avortement au Nouveau-Brunswick (Regroupement Féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick)

New Bruswick Gambles with Women’s Lives (Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada)

Le Nouveau-Brunswick met en péril la vie des femmes (Coalition pour le droit à l’avortement au Canada)

Government Must Act Quickly on Reproductive Health Services for Women (Green Party of New Brunswick)

L’administration doit agir rapidement concernant les services de la santé de la procréation des femmes (Parti Vert du Nouveau-Brunswick)

NEW BRUNSWICK MUST FOLLOW THE LAW ON ABORTION PROVISION, SAYS NDP (New Democratic Party of New Brunswick)

LE N.-B. DOIT SUIVRE LA LOI SUR L’ACCÈS AUX SERVICES D’AVORTEMENT AFFIRME LE NPD (Nouveau parti démocratique du Nouveau-Brunswick)

An Open Letter to the Minister of Health // Lettre ouverte à la ministre de la Santé (Niki Ashton, MP)

YWCA Moncton calls for equitable and publicly funded abortion access in New Brunswick (YWCA Moncton)

YWCA Moncton plaide pour un accès à l’avortement équitable et public au Nouveau-Brunswick (YWCA Moncton)

Morgentaler Clinic Closure puts New Brunswick Women at Risk (YWCA Canada)

La fermeture de la Clinique Morgentaler pose un risque pour les femmes du Nouveau-Brunswick (YWCA Canada)

Professors urge NB ministers to act on women’s rights to reproductive freedom

Ongoing list – add yours in comments!

Call out for translators! * Traductrices et traducteurs recherché.e.s!

We want everything on this website to be accessible in French and English! If you can translate English to French and are willing to volunteer some time to do so, please contact Peggy – pedgehog [at] gmail [dot] com

Thank you – merci!

***

Nous souhaitons que le contenu de ce site web soit accessible dans les deux langues officielles, soit le français et l’anglais. Si vous pouvez traduire de l’anglais vers le français, et que vous pouvez offrir de votre temps de manière bénévole, communiquez avec Peggy – pedgehog [at] gmail [dot] com.
Merci beaucoup!

Upcoming Event – Rally in Fredericton * Évènement à venir – Rassemblement à Fredericton

The Fredericton Youth Feminists are holding a rally next Thursday in Fredericton * Les Jeunes féministes de Fredericton ont organisé un rassemblement qui aura lieu jeudi prochain à Fredericton. Voici plus d’informations (le français suit l’anglais) :

The Morgentaler Clinic is being forced to close its doors in July due to lack of government funding. The clinic was the only private abortion clinic in the maritimes.

New Brunswick is not addressing the issue and is actively acting against our reproductive rights. We need accessible and safe abortions, and we need the government to start funding them.

Take a stand with us this Thursday at 12:30 outside the Legislative Building at 706 Queen St. and make your voice be heard. Bring posters, bring energy and bring your LOUD opinion!

Please contact Sorcha Beirne through facebook or email at sorcha.beirne@gmail.com for any questions or concerns!

***

La clinique Morgentaler a annoncé le 10 avril qu’elle devra fermer ses portes en juillet en raison de manque de financement provincial. Cette clinique privée est la seule en son genre dans les provinces maritimes.

Le Nouveau-Brunswick n’aborde pas la question et s’oppose à nos droits en matière de reproduction en continuant d’appuyer le règlement a.1) de la loi 84-20 (http://www.gnb.ca/0062/PDF-regs/84-20.pdf, p. 37). Nous demandons la possibilité d’avoir des avortements accessibles et sécuritaires, et nous voulons qu’ils soient financés par le gouvernement.

Prenez position avec nous jeudi le 11 avril à 12h30 pm devant l’Assemblée Législative au 706 rue Queen à Fredericton. Apportez vos affiches, votre énergie et vos opinions FORTES!