Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Abortion in Atlantic Canada: GAME ON!

When I was a youngster, the battle for abortion rights in Canada was on. Even as a poor student, I contributed regularly to Canadian Abortion Rights Action League and continued until we won. Natch, I turned my bod out when required too.

Now it's the current generation's turn.

This is winnable. And it will be fun for the young'uns. We haven't had a good feminist dust-up in Canada in ages.

It's got all the elements: a petition, rallies in Fredericton, PEI, Halifax and elsewhere across the country starting tomorrow, Thursday, April 17.

Politics enters in of course, especially in an election year, which seems to spook the fetus fetishists, who must realize the clock is ticking LOUDLY on their antediluvian attitudes.

Plus, of course, the legal battle, instigated by Dr Morgentaler, which has to date provided a handy out for the government.

Health Minister Ted Flemming has declined to comment, citing the lawsuit the late Henry Morgentaler launched against the provincial government in 2002, demanding the government pay for procedures at this clinic.

"That lawsuit is still before the courts, it's still an open file before the courts, so beyond that I'm not prepared to comment further," Flemming has said.
Oopsie. Lawsuit has been withdrawn.

Besides the cross-country support, this is a very real issue in PEI, where there are NO abortions performed. About 10% of the procedures at the NB clinic were done for Island women.

In light of that, I found this absolutely astonishing.
A search of Hansard, the official written record of debate in the P.E.I. legislature, shows the word abortion has only come up in debate three times since 1996.
THREE times in nearly 20 years??????

The silence is being shattered in Atlantic Canada.

And it's gonna be FUN!

Previous DJ! coverage of New Brunswick and PEI.

ADDED: LEAF weighs in.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

PSA: Something You Can Do about Identity Theft

I was once the victim of identity theft. It was minor: somebody writing letters to the editor in my name (I was a small-fish local activist). I kicked up a shitstorm, got retractions. All good.

But the revelations about the theft of data from the Canada Revenue Agency are more worrying.

There is a very nasty scam that can be perpetrated completely without your knowledge until it jumps up to bite you on the ass. And it can take years to unscrew.

With some really basic info on you, bad guys can apply for and potentially get credit of various sorts in your name. If they're successful, they run up debt and ruin your credit rating in the process.

And you won't find out until you apply for a credit card or a mortgage or something and get refused.

Luckily, there something you can do and it's FREE.

There are two credit rating agencies that want to sell you all kinds of credit monitoring programs, but that will also (must have been arm-twisted by government) provide some info on your credit rating for FREE.

Their sites manage to hide the FREE service rather well, but I sussed them out this morning and here they are.

TransUnion and Equifax.

Smarty-pantses say you should check on this regularly. I last did it about 10 years ago when I heard of the scam, but I'm on it again now.

You're welcome.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Abortion in New Brunswick: It's Time

By now you've heard that the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton (one of only two abortion clinics east of Montreal!) is closing. CBC report and Al Jazeera report with photos and tweets.

What I hadn't realized is that New Brunswick is the original home of the TRAP law. TRAP (Targetted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws are increasingly common in the abortion wars in the US.

But New Brunswick blazed a trail, legislating against ONE SPECIFIC CLINIC.

From the press release by the clinic:
From the moment Dr. Morgentaler announced his intention to open an abortion clinic in Fredericton, the provincial government planned to thwart his efforts.  The premier at the time, Frank McKenna, stated that: “if Mr. Morgentaler tries to open a clinic in the province of New Brunswick, he’s going to get the fight of his life.”

Subsequent New Brunswick governments have continued to block access to abortion services in New Brunswick.

Dr. Morgentaler was immune to their threats.  He had already survived jail, threats against his life and the bombing of his Toronto clinic.  The actions of the N.B. government only served to strengthen his resolve to ensure that New Brunswick women would have access to safe abortion care in his clinic and that no woman would be turned away regardless of her ability to pay.  The Morgentaler Clinic opened in June, 1994 and since then has provided abortion services to more than 10,000 women in a non-judgmental, evidence based, and professional environment.

The main obstacle the New Brunswick government created for New Brunswick women who needed to access abortions was, and still is, Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2(a.1). It states that an abortion will only be covered by Medicare if:
1. It is performed in a hospital by a specialist in the field of obstetrics or gynaecology and that
2. Two doctors have certified in writing that the procedure is ‘medically necessary’.
(Note that NB has never bothered to define "medically necessary." Read the whole press release for the history of their struggles and the heroic contributions of Dr Morgentaler. Also, DJ! has been covering the clinic's travails for years.)

So. Hats off to the innovative fetus fetishists of New Brunswick!

The deranged anti-choicers, rather than celebrating, are suspicious. They think the closure announcement is a stunt. Well, they don't want to dry up all those tasty donations, do they?

While it's idiotic to think of this desperate measure as a stunt, I think it will have serious unintended consequences that both the governments of NB and PEI (10% of abortions done at the Fredericton clinic are for women from PEI, where abortions are simply NOT DONE) will have to deal with.

The Morgentaler Clinic acted as a safety valve. For women who could afford it and arrange the travel, time off work, child care etc, the clinic provided an "out" for these two governments.

Fine, they could say, you want a "non-medical" abortion? Go to Morgentaler's and pay for it yourself.

Not anymore.

So what will the governments of NB and PEI say to women now?

Will this be the wake-up call for women and their allies previously shamed into silence? Will this be the rallying point for pro-choicers across the country to demand that ALL Canadian women get equal access to health care?

I hope so.

Now for the public service part of this blog post.

Here's a petition to sign. Now at over 6400 signatures, when I signed yesterday, it was just over 3000.

Next, here's a list of NB legislators with email addresses for letter writing.

And here's a blogpost by a former clinic worker, Pedgehog, with her own insights and suggestions.

It's time. Let's drag New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island into the 21st century.

UPDATE: There's an election in NB this year. Looks like Liberal Leader is "softening" support for government 2-doctor policy without actually coming out in support of repeal of the regulations.

UPPITY-DATER: There's a rally next Thursday, April 17. 2,000 already confirmed.

MORE: There's NBProchoice tumblr. Upload a picture.

A Most Opportune Death

well, it wasn't for Flaherty but it most certainly is for Harper.

We will all die.  Every one of us.

But let us consider Flaherty's CONvenient demise and how Harper will play it out.

All in all, Flaherty's sudden death after dumping Harper and his party, is awfully CONvenient for PMSHithead - if he needs to strike fear in his partisans.

Paul Wells, a most rigorous and understated political reporter, gives us an insight into the internal gears of Harper's CPC that are grinding Canadians down as well as a portrait of a corporate conservative, here.

Flaherty's death offers Harper's Politburo glorious, flashy opportunities to display him in a *good* light which is a tactic that PMSHithead badly needs to deploy right now.

So, let's watch how Harper plays the Canadian and international media in order to exploit Flaherty's death for his own purpose.  It can be his new sweater-and-kittens schtick!

Will Harper insist that Flaherty receive a state funeral, with all the pomp and protocol, and the attendant bells and whistles? I bet he does exactly that. PMSHithead's government needs a MASSIVE sparkly diversions from all the attention the lies, the fraud and the corruption that Harper has facilitated.

As tweeter @dexterdyne asked: The Harper government has cut programs and funding for our veterans, scientists, health care, unemployed, the CBC, the public service.  So what exactly are they spending it on? 

In order to evade such probing questions, Harper's Politburo in currently in full War Room mode.  Right now its richly-paid communication flunkies are spinning tactics to best exploit Flaherty's death for maximum benefit: to make PMSHithead look *good* to voters and to the media.

They are probably looking to North Korea, as they did when they wrote the *Fair* Elections Act, for inspiration on how to shine up Harper's image.

Perhaps Harper's Politburo will claim C23 was Flaherty's brainchild; thus any critic of any word of the Elections Reform Act could be smeared (or worse?) for "disrespecting" his memory.

I suggest instead of listening and watching a week of disgusting and crass CPC Con glurge, Canadians might view _Angel Heart_ or any film that explores what happens when someone sells their soul to the devil.

Once you start thinking of Harper in THAT light... 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Woody's Last Wank

Stephen Woodworth has blown his last wad.

He needed unanimous consent in Parliament today to move his "worth and dignity", aka "Women Are Mere Vessels for the Worth and Dignity of Blobs of Tissue" gambit forward.

He did not get it.

Stephen Woodworth, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre, today asked Members of Parliament to unanimously agree that every Canadian law must be interpreted in a manner which recognizes the equal worth and dignity of everyone who is in fact a human being. Woodworth asked the House of Commons, “Who here wants to deny the equal worth and dignity of any fellow human being?”

During routine procedures at 10:00 AM Eastern time, some Members of Parliament voted “nay” when MP Woodworth asked for unanimous consent.
And that's it.

We at DAMMIT JANET! have been following this wingnut for months (years?) now and now declare his much extended 15 minutes of fame over.

We're done with him.

As, we sincerely hope, will be the good people of Kitchener Centre in the next election.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Woodworth: The Coming Zombie Puppet Apocalypse!

I'm confused. Is Woody threatening a zombie apocalypse or a Muppet movie remake?

So reluctant is he to mention the A word that he is driven to moronic allegories and now puppets (?).

Really the man makes no sense. (bold added)

Under Parliamentary rules Woodworth cannot, without unanimous consent, bring this Motion to a vote so he will seek the unanimous consent of Members of Parliament. During Woodworth’s Member’s Statement on Monday, March 31, 2014 he noted that “If even one Member of this House refuses to consent to this essential principle of democratic governance it will be a dark and dangerous day for Canada.


Woodworth said: “Laws like subsection 223(1), which falsely condemn as non-human those we know to be human, are savage and inhumane, a throwback to a more barbarous age.” Any Member opposing Motion 476 is denying the equal worth and dignity of every member of the human family affirmed in the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He went on to say that in addition, "Similarly, if anyone opposes Motion 476a, they clearly haven't seen the latest Muppet Movie and are simply out of touch with their Child side...and probably reality as well."

Woodworth posing with his hand puppets "Les" and "Bess" in a press conference says " I would like this Motion to include hand puppets as well because they are so human-like at times to me, and have become almost equals when it comes to hammering home some of my best ideas in parliament. It'll be a sad day for puppets if this Motion goes down in flames.

Woodworth says Motion 476a (which will include puppets) will underline the reason why it is important for Canadians to refuse to accept any law which condemns as non-human anyone we know to be human or suspect to have human-like qualities...for instance--puppets!

Miss Piggy, whom is often viewed as more human than some people and certainly more than some politicians, could not be reached for comment.

Well, as for puppets being people too, Woody, as a backbench Conservative MP, should know.


As long as I've been blogging on reproductive rights and justice (about seven years), there's been wrangling in Philippines over basic contraception and family planning.

And now it's over.

The Supreme Court in the Philippines has approved a birth control law, in a defeat for the Catholic Church.

The law requires government health centres to distribute free condoms and contraceptive pills.

The court had deferred implementation after the law's passage in December 2012 after church groups questioned its constitutionality.

Supporters of the law cheered as the court found that most of the provisions were constitutional.

The government of President Benigno Aquino defied years of church pressure by passing the bill.

It says the law will help the poor, who often cannot afford birth control, and combat the country's high rates of maternal mortality.

The provisions will make virtually all forms of contraception freely available at public health clinics.

Sex education will also be compulsory in schools and public health workers will be required to receive family planning training.

There will also be medical care for women who have had illegal abortions.
Abortion of course will still be illegal.

Here's the view from Manila.
The Catholic Church, which counts over 80 percent of the country’s 100 million population as members, had led street protests denouncing the law as “evil”, and at one point in its opposition campaign threatened Aquino with excommunication.

One of its hardline opponents and a petitioner to the court, former senator Francisco Tatad, said allowing the law to take effect could force Catholics into an open revolt.

“This means civil disobedience at the very least, actual revolt at the most extreme,” Tatad wrote in a commentary in the Manila Standard on Tuesday.

“Some of us will want to defy the power of the devil and die as martyrs, if need be, in the only cause that gives us a chance to fight for something much bigger than ourselves.”
Big talk.

All bullshit.
Nevertheless, many Catholics have embraced less conservative views in recent decades.

A recent survey carried by the respected Social Weather Stations polling group said about 84 percent of Filipinos agreed that the government should provide free family planning options such as contraceptives.

It said 72 percent were “in favor” of the law.
Another Vatican Taliban FAIL.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

More on the Canadian Sexual Two-Step

First, the step back:

DJ! fave (^NOT) Stephen Woodworth is at it again.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth hits the stage at the National Press Theatre for "an important announcement" on his backbench bid to have the Commons "affirm that every Canadian law must be interpreted in a manner that recognizes in law the equal worth and dignity of everyone who is in fact a human being" -- which is, of course, a not terribly veiled attempt to restart the 'conversation' that he had hoped to trigger with his original, more obviously abortion-targeted motion in 2012.

As he has already used up his slot on the private members' priority list, Woodworth will almost certainly not get the opportunity to see his motion go to the House floor under his name, but he may have successfully persuaded a colleague to carry on the campaign.
That was from National Treasure Kady O'Malley, who when asked which MPs might give up his or her spot for this quixotic ploy, responded with this link and the additional information that the first 15 names have priority.

Those names are:
122. Chong, Michael
123. Brosseau, Ruth Ellen
124. Ayala, Paulina
125. Mayes, Colin
126. Chisu, Corneliu
127. Péclet, Ève
128. Hoback, Randy
129. Leef, Ryan
130. Hayes, Bryan
131. Van Kesteren, Dave
132. Choquette, François
133. Valeriote, Frank
134. Patry, Claude
135. Stanton, Bruce
136. Morin, Isabelle
From Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada's list of anti-choice MPs, there are three possibles: Mayes, Hoback, and Van Kesteren.

We live and see.

From the step-forward file: New Brunswick students call for an end to the shameful and illegal refusal of NB to fund abortions.

A group of students at St. Thomas University has launched an online petition asking the New Brunswick government to fund abortions at a private clinic.

The aspiring social workers say they know women who have had difficulty accessing abortions and they want the province to fund abortions at Fredericton’s private Morgentaler Clinic.
Here's their petition, now with more than 3,000 signatures.

Support the students' efforts and women's rights in New Brunswick.

UPDATE to Woodworth bit: Kady reports that she missed the beginning of his presser, but noted that he seemed to be giving the speech he always gives.

Upshot: Same old bullshit.

Elsewhere in Canda: GSAs, Abstinence-Only Sex Ed, Parental Consent for Abortion

Gazillions of electrons will be spilled today poring over the entrails of the election in Quebec. Since I know little and understand less of QC politics, I'm turning my attention to some neglected stories from Alberta and Saskatchewan.

First up: Valiant but doomed effort to mandate Gay Straight Alliances in Alberta.
A motion from a Liberal MLA to mandate that schools support the establishment of student-led gay-straight alliances to help curb bullying and discrimination was defeated in the legislature Monday.

Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr said in the debate that clubs that bring together gay and straight students help create a tolerant environment and have been demonstrated to reduce bullying of all types.
. . .
The Liberals and NDP supported the motion with the support of some PC MLAs. However, a majority of Tories and the Wildrose Party opposed it, with the final tally 31 to 19.
Sure, Conservatives will invoke "bullying" as their excuse when they really want to invade our online privacy, but actually doing something about it? Not if it offends the gord-fearing haters in their base.

Next up, also from Alberta, it seems those gord-fearing haters have invaded the sex ed programs of PUBLIC schools.

Back in 2012, a CTV investigation in BC got sex ed programs run by Christian "Crisis Pregnancy Centres" aka fake clinics booted from public schools.

Now they're spreading the hate and lies in Edmonton public schools.
While abstinence may be the only foolproof way to prevent pregnancy, local parents are worried it is the only form of birth control taught at certain Edmonton schools.

According to Edmonton parent and local activist Franki Harrogate the Pregnancy Care Centre — a local organization that offers counseling and guidance for unplanned pregnancy — has been teaching an abstinence-only model at some schools.

“They don’t provide comprehensive sexual education and it’s performed from a very sex negative (perspective),” Harrogate said.
A grassroots group in Edmonton trying to stop them. Here's the petition by Kathy Dawson.
In violation of the curriculum requirements (the CALM Guide to Implementation and the Education Act), students at an Edmonton public high school were recently taught gender stereotypes, inaccurate, incomplete, and biased information about sexuality in a Career and Life Management (CALM) class.

Sexually active students were shamed, non-traditional families were disparaged and LGBTQ questions were not answered. Parents were not informed of the presenter's identity or the specific content.

In response to letters, the Ministry of Education appears unwilling to intervene and the Edmonton Public School Board is not acting to change its policies around parental notification or to ensure that only quality comprehensive sex education is taught in public schools as per curriculum requirements.

Edmonton Pregnancy Care Centre is a Christ-centred anti-choice ministry that is not a medical facility. They present the “Wait! Let’s Talk Sex!” (Abstinence only program) to 60 Edmonton Public Schools (that includes students in grades 7, 8, 9 and CALM 20). Edmonton Public Schools is fully aware of the content of these presentations and continues to allow teachers to select this “ministry” to indoctrinate vulnerable youth. Edmonton Public Schools is refusing to mandate that parents be informed about presenters and content as part of the parental consent procedure for sexual health education. Only 18 schools bring in comprehensive sex education presenters.

The presenter I saw in 2013 appeared to focus on abstinent, heterosexual teens while misrepresenting and omitting sexuality information. The following is a partial list of fundamentalist anti-choice, anti-feminist, anti-male, anti-birth control, anti-gay, medically inaccurate and biased doctrine I heard:

-refused to answer questions relating to LGBTQ
-scientifically inaccurate information about fetal development, abortion and emergency contraception
-misused research on oxytocin bonding
-misled youth about contact with babies surrendered for open adoption
-misled youth about birth control and condom effectiveness
-presented a divorce rate at 70%
-provided inflammatory and misleading information about Planned Parenthood
-misrepresented the effectiveness of over the counter pregnancy tests
-presented gender stereotypes that were sexist to all genders
-misrepresented boys as HPV (human papillomavirus) carriers-stated 60% have it under their finger nails
In addition to this bosh, the Christian sex expert is clairvoyant.

More from the petition:
This presenter claimed that she could look students in the eye and know if they were having sex.

Abstinence only sex ed is not only medical and scientific bullshit, by all credible assessment measures, it simply does not work.

And now to Saskatchewan, where as we reported recently, fetus fetishists are gamely trying to introduce "parental consent" regulations for abortion to Canada for the first time.

So, how's their letter-writing campaign going? Not too well (scroll down to March 10).

Saskatchewan MLAs say they are getting few e-mails.

We see that petitions are getting downloaded and many petitions are getting signed. They should be hitting the floor of the Legislative Assembly soon.

HOWEVER, MLAs are saying they are getting very few e-mails.  We need to STEP it up.  We need to BOMBARD our MLAs with everything we have to get this very basic and "friendly" law passed in Saskatchewan.

Use the Easy-Mail program - it is quick, easy and takes less than a minute, unless you choose to personalize the content of the letter.  PLEASE, DO IT NOW!!!
Hee. They thought this was going to be quick and easy. After all, who could argue with this "very basic and friendly law"?

Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, for one, wrote her own letter to Saskatchewan MLAs.
Dear Saskatchewan Members of the Legislative Assembly,

Two anti-abortion groups have recently launched a campaign to enact a law in Saskatchewan requiring parental consent before a minor can have an abortion (

The attached new Position Paper (also available here demonstrates with comprehensive evidence that if a parental consent law for abortion was passed by any Canadian province or territory, it would contravene and reverse current medical policies and ethics around the consent of minors to healthcare, violate their constitutional rights to bodily security and privacy, and increase risks to their health and safety.

In Saskatchewan, a parental consent law for abortion would be particularly harmful and counter-productive, as it would disproportionately impact the high numbers of marginalized youth in your province, as the following facts attest:
• Child poverty rates in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the highest in Canada, according to Saskatoon Health. Saskatchewan also has a significant Aboriginal population (11.3%) that has historically experienced enormous economic and social hardships, much of which continues to this day. 
• Saskatchewan has the second highest rate of teenage births in Canada (29 per 1,000 women aged 14-19), second only to Nunavut. A parental consent law for abortion would increase these rates even more, thereby continuing the cycle of poverty and dysfunction that so many are trapped in.
• The Saskatchewan Child Welfare Review Panel Report: For the good of our children and youth ( documents that “Saskatchewan has high rates of alcohol dependency and abuse, the second largest concentration of youth gang members on a per capita basis, and high rates of child poverty, youth crime, incarceration, disability, family violence, and mental health problems.” In addition: “Caseloads of children in care keep growing, and the outcomes for children and families are not acceptable. … The majority of clients of the child welfare system are Aboriginal – First nations and Métis. The percentage has been growing over recent decades and seems likely to continue on that path.”

Given the environment of poverty and inequity that too many Saskatchewan youth live in, and the evidence submitted in the attached paper, we ask you to please reject any possibility of a parental consent law for abortion. Instead, we urge the Saskatchewan government to follow the recommendations of the above-noted report from the Saskatchewan Child Welfare Review Panel, which urged all levels of government to address the poverty-related conditions that drive child neglect and other social problems. These include making “significant improvements to the income support, affordable housing, and disability service systems used by Saskatchewan families.” We believe this would be the best way forward to protect Saskatchewan youth and improve their futures.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Joyce Arthur
In addition to the letter, ARCC produced a position paper (pdf) on parental consent laws and what a nightmare of privacy and human rights violations they would entail.

In Canada, as ever, the sexual two-step continues. One step forward, two steps back.

Upcoming blogposts on the forward (New Brunswick) and back (*sigh* Woodworth Rides Again).