Friday, 4 January 2013

In Canada, Pro-Choice Is Winning

If you've been wondering about fetus fetishists crowing about winning and pro-choice losing lately, this TIME magazine cover story is what it's about.

Amanda Marcotte responds.
There's much to like about Kate Pickert's Time cover story (hidden behind a paywall) on abortion rights 40 years after Roe v. Wade. Unlike the majority of big media stories on this issue, this one actually portrays abortion patients accurately, particularly pointing out how most of them are grown adults with children at home and notes the wide range of feminist activism—from fighting for women's economic rights to promoting contraception access—that actually results in lower abortion rates. Pickert even mentions the phrase "reproductive justice," a framework that takes a more holistic approach to improving people's reproductive lives and one that appeals strongly to younger activists, especially activists of color.

Too bad, then, that Pickert portrays the increasing restrictions on abortion access as the result of the failings of the pro-choice movement, a narrative which inevitably leads to blaming pro-choicers for being "hard line," "tone deaf," and lacking "nuance."
She tries to pass the whole deal off as 'business as usual'.
Two-steps-forward-one-step-back is the ugly reality of progressive politics.
That's often true, but not necessarily.

In Canada, we did it differently.

Merkin feminists won the right to abortion on January 22, 1973 with the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

Immediately legislatures around the country started enacted restrictions.
In response to Roe v. Wade, most states enacted or attempted to enact laws limiting or regulating abortion. . . Congress in 1976 passed the Hyde Amendment, barring federal funding of abortions (except in the case of rape, incest, or life of the woman) for poor women through the Medicaid program. The Supreme Court struck down several state restrictions on abortions in a long series of cases stretching from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, but upheld restrictions on funding, including the Hyde Amendment, in the case of Harris v. McRae (1980).
Merkin feminists have been fighting -- and largely losing -- rearguard skirmishes ever since.

Canadians watched in horror as the huge victory got nibbled to death by ducks.

We were like the younger sister. We got to watch Big Sis make terrible mistakes. And like the smart younger sister, we learned. We vowed to ourselves the political equivalent of 'blue eyeshadow is NEVER a good idea'.

It took 15 more years in Canada, until January 28, 1988, to achieve our victory, R. v. Morgentaler.

But because we watched and learned, we were ready for the ducks. Every time -- every fucking time -- the fetus fetishists show signs of screwing around with our rights, we act.

Recently, with Ken Epp's Kicking Abortion's Ass Bill, we were a little slow off the mark.

So when Woodworth's Wank, aka Motion 312 surfaced, we were ready.

And we are ready for its sequel, Warawa's Wank, aka Motion 408.

As a matter of fact, the more the so-called debate heats up here in Canada, the more support we gain.

So, bring it, fetus fetishists.

We watched Big Sis fuck up.

We won't.

ADDED: Joyce Arthur's excellent Rabble piece on The Benefits of Decriminalizing Abortion.


choice joyce said...

Thanks fern, right on! I felt uncomfortable with that Time article too, it's really not fair to heap all the blame on the pro-choice movement. They were saddled with a problematic court decision to begin with (Roe v Wade paved the way for all those restrictions because of the trimester framework) and then outgunned by a larger and more powerful anti-choice movement that was greatly strengthened through the Reagan/Bush years. I think another main cause of pro-choice 'failures' in the U.S. is the much higher degree of religious fundamentalism there. I don't think we'd be doing so well in Canada if we didn't still have a strongly secular culture here. Of course, our pro-choice movement is awesome too ;-)

the regina mom said...

Agreed that we watched the USian sisterhood do their thing, but my recollection of materials I've read is that pressure on the Libs in the 60s led to Pierre Trudeau as Justice Minister easing up the no abortion law to allow for abortions if approved by TACs. That was eventually shot down to give us what we now have.

And, inbetween there was lots going on: the 1970 Abortion Caravan to Ottawa where women shut down Parliament for the first time, ever, in our history as a nation; Dr. Morgentaler, defying the law, repeatedly, throughout the 70s and 80s; and always, the ongoing on-the-ground work from coast to coast to coast.

And now, I see our daughters taking up the cause to ensure there will be reproductive justice in Canada. May they succeed!

fern hill said...

regina mom: Of course Canadian women and allies won our own fight. My point is that we had and have a very clear object lesson in the US reminding us to NEVER relax for a minute, NEVER give a millimetre, NEVER compromise.

Anonymous said...

Our protection against the uteri-crusaders, aka the Harper government, is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Until one of them figures out a way to craft a law that will pass a charter sniff test, we are safe. Meanwhile though, we have to suffer through serial trail balloons in Parliament while Harper pretends to be opposed and the absurd Rona Ambrose descends into insanity.

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