Wednesday, 25 March 2015

La Noirceur nouvelle, cru 2015

Last night several feminists I follow on Twitter (québecoises and from the rest of Canada) tweeted the link to a breaking news story in Le Devoir regarding some hidden provisions in Bill 20, currently moving thru the Assemblée nationale.

This bill, framed as a necessary - AUSTERITY! - reform to the programs which regulate how healthcare is provided by physicians in Québec, was bulldozed through Québec's legislative assembly by the Minister for Health Dr Barrette.  The crumbs of information disclosed reveal that family physicians as well as specialists working for community-based public healthcare service providers will be penalized if they don't obey Barrette's complicated system of quotas.

Interestingly enough, specialists employed by private sector clinics that are owned by physicians who are incorporated as business entities are not restricted by these new regulations.  For example radiologists - unless employed by a hospital, individual practitioners - are still allowed to be as greedy as they want.  Dr Barrette and his spouse are radiologists.

Prochoice providers of women's reproductive healthcare crunched the numbers and revealed another repressive aspect of the Québec Liberal regime's proposed system (loosely translated from story here):
The Minister of Health Gaétan Barrette will limit the number of abortions done by Quebec physicians. In a departmental working document, it was said that abortions will no longer be considered as priority medical activities, which will result in the closing of clinics and thus limit access to first-trimester pregnancy termination.

The devil is in the details. For months now, health care stakeholders demanded to see the famous regulations that Bill 20 will impose. A draft regulation, obtained by the Women's Health Centre in Montreal and consulted by Le Devoir, set off reactions. "Bill 20 was passed without consulting patients, which is extremely dangerous! Women's reproductive health and ensuring prompt access to abortion is fundamental to women's rights. This is a basic criterion of equality between men and women."

The director of the Women's Health Center, Anne-Marie Messier, is angry.  Thirty doctors and directors of family planning clinics sent a letter to the Minister to denounce this attack upon the rights of Québecoises. "By trivializing the important work of doctors (mostly women) working in providing abortions and related services in reproductive health, the Liberal government seriously undermines the right of women to comprehensive reproductive health care in Quebec," they wrote.

Jabba the Hutt doppelgänger Dr Barrette is infamous for throwing his political weight around, bullying his opponents into silence.  On radio, he hectored women for their hysterical stupidity.

But women have reacted rationally and calmly to Bill 20's proposed reforms.

Toula Drimonis published this.
As it stands, the proposed legislation would impose a maximum quota of 504 abortions per doctor per year, even though the number of physicians performing abortions is already limited in this province. This morning, Barrette said that physicians regularly performing abortions would be given “exemptions” to the restrictions. I still don’t quite understand why you would create a law limiting the number of abortions a physician can perform and then hand out “exemptions” to that very same law. What’s the point? Are these measures aimed at reducing costs or are they simply meant to open the door to privatizing these services? One has to wonder. 

If a woman doesn’t have access to one of the very few abortion clinics that exist, then a woman would have to go through her family doctor or another specialist, and eventually that doctor is going to hit a quota. And then what? What does that woman do? As it currently stands, too many Quebecers don’t even have access to a family doctor. A woman without access to one wishing to terminate her pregnancy would have to resort to her CLSC or another clinic, significantly increasing the chances of coming across that quota once again. Particularly in rural areas. 

Let’s not forget that Barrette and his band of merry cost-cutting men (women too, sadly) are also behind governmental efforts to significantly limit access to in-vitro fertilization treatment (IVF), going as far as making it illegal for women over 42 to get IVF. With this bill, only women aged 18 to 42 would have access to IVF treatment — after passing a psychological evaluation. A psychological evaluation…
During that period of Québec history known as "La grande noirceur", Premier Duplessis colluded with the Catholic Church to suppress women's rights. Married women were ostracized by their parish priests if they used birth control. Union organizers like Madeleine Parent and Léa Roback were harassed.

A regressive, patriarchy-tinged backlash is burbling in Québec, much like an over-full septic tank that's been overlooked.  In spite of secularity being the dominant discourse, recent events such as violence incited by the proposed Charter, the emergence of many antiChoice Pregnancy Crisis Centres - which my co-blogger investigated here - a judge refusing to hear the testimony of a woman clad in hijab, suggest that Dr Gaétan 'Duplessis' Barrette is a carbuncle, a symptom of toxic misogyny seething in the body politic. 

1 comment:

Beijing York said...

So much bad news out of Quebec. To add more insult to la belle province, CBC is cutting 100 Radio-Canada jobs.

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