Saturday 28 June 2014

Birth Control: Deeply Moral or Inconsequential?

You can't have it both ways.

Either birth control is a highly moral issue on which physicians must be allowed to impose their "conscience" or it is a trivial matter with negligible consequences that can be easily dealt with.

"A doctor at a Calgary walk-in clinic is refusing to prescribe birth control due to her personal beliefs."

This caused a ruckus starting on Facebook and a comment was sought from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (bold mine).

Under the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta’s policy on Moral or Religious Beliefs Affecting Medical Care, doctors can refuse to provide medical services, but must ensure the patient is offered timely access to those services from another practitioner.

Trevor Theman, registrar with the CPSA, said the policy does not require Westglen to have a doctor on hand who can prescribe the pill.

He did not specify what “timely” meant, but said a delay in receiving a birth control prescription is “not likely going to disadvantage a patient in a serious way.”

“There’s a degree of urgency but it’s not like life or death today kind of urgency,” he said, adding most women should be seeing a family doctor about their sexual health needs.

“In an ideal world, women who need birth control or are seeking birth control will have a regular doctor and won’t just be dropping into a walk-in clinic to get a prescription for birth control pills.”
Yabbut, this is not an ideal world
Pam Krause, president and CEO of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre, said she’s aware of doctors who morally object to making abortion referrals, but refusing to prescribe birth control is virtually unheard of in Alberta.
Personal beliefs should not interfere with a professional responsibilities, she said, adding that the birth control pill is one of the most highly demanded prescriptions.
In fact, one in five Calgarians ­­— 200,000 people — is without a family doctor and rely on walk-in clinics to serve their medical needs.

So, which is it? Big fucking hairy deal? Or minor matter that non-irresponsible women should sort out on their own?

And that reminded me of the messed-up recall of the birth control pill AlySena in April 2013.
“Although this recall is currently a Type 2 recall and does not require pharmacy to contact patients, due to the potential seriousness of the recall, and in an abundance of caution, care and concern for our customers, London Drugs has chosen to be proactive in advising our customers and patients of the recall,” the blog post read, linking off to the urgent notice.

Class 1 situations require “reasonable probability” that the use of the drug will cause serious health consequences or death. Class 2 could lead to “temporary adverse health consequences,” Health Canada explains on its website.
The maker, Apotex, seemed to consider the issue serious. Health Canada not so much.
The lot was identified as LF01899A and distributor Apotex issued a voluntary recall to wholesalers and retailers on April 3. The affected packages were removed from store shelves on April 5, when most pharmacies received the recall.

But patients were not required to be contacted until April 8, when Health Canada upgraded the recall to Type I, the most serious level.

Health Canada says this type of recall is reserved for “a situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, a product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.”
Again, an unintended pregnancy seems to strike some in the medical community as a mere "temporary adverse health consequence." Much like the fetus fetishists who insist pregnancy is hardly any bother at all. And women who reject it are selfish bitches.

Gawd, we women and our reproductive systems require a lot of policing, don't we?

Here's a radical idea: Why don't we leave such decisions entirely up to the person most affected? And leave the damned panty-sniffing gatekeepers -- whether MDs, pharmacists, or Health Canada -- out of it.

Let us know if a product is safe and effective, then shut the fuck up.

Reminder: In Ontario, a similar kerfuffle over the "morality" of birth control prescriptions drove the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to seek public input. Go have your say. The process is open until August 5.

Friday 20 June 2014

Kansas? Louisiana? Nope. New Brunswick refers patients to religious counsellors

Imagine for a moment that you or a friend or rellie has a health concern. It's not (yet) 911-ambulance time, but you want some information on what your options are should it come to that.

All (?) provincial health ministries run handy tele-health lines with supposedly trained professionals ready to answer your questions with good, up-to-date info. In New Brunswick, this service is called Telecare.

Back in April, when we learned that the only private abortion clinic east of Montreal was closing, we predicted that there'd be some unintended consequences for the NB and PEI governments, both of which have stupid and illegal rigamaroles for abortion services.
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?

Well, now we know.

Telecare NB is referring patients who need medical advice to anti-choice religious counsellors. (From Radio-Canada, via Google translation checked and improved by deBeauxO.)
Women who contacted the organization Telecare for information on abortion services in New Brunswick, claim that they were directed to pro-life services.

Telecare is an information and advice line on health within the Ministry of Health of New Brunswick.

Learning of the closure of the Morgentaler Clinic, Marilyn Merritt-Gray, a retired nurse, wanted to know what abortion services remain available.

She called Telecare, claiming that her daughter wanted an abortion.

The person who answered her call found in the system an organization which, it was explained to her, provides services to women facing an unwanted pregnancy.

It was BirthRight, a pro-life organization.

"I was shocked and angry! "- Marilyn Merritt-Gray, retired nurse.

Other women were given the same reference that Marilyn Merritt Gray received.

BirthRight offers free pregnancy tests, psychological support, housing help, transportation, child education, or assistance in finding a doctor.

But the organization will not present abortion as one of the possible options.

The Department of Health says an audit of the situation is underway.

According to Jaden Fitzherbert*, other women were referred not only to Birthright, but to CPCs (aka fake abortion clinics) in St John and Moncton.

Birthright is a bit different from other fake clinics in that it "has a philosophy of avoiding direct involvement in pro-life or pro-choice political advocacy."

The other two are forthrightly religious and up to their eyeballs in anti-choice activism, most notably as big players in the March For Life bunfest organized by New Brunswick Right to Life, located conveeeeniently adjacent to the Morgentaler Clinic.

Whether avowedly religious or not, all share a rabid anti-choice position and no medical qualifications whatsoever.

So, call a government agency looking for healthcare information and get directed to faith-based propaganda, masquerading as "counselling."

It's very like the situation commenter Beijing York related here, on a post on whether MDs should be allowed to let their religion trump patient care.
I brought up an example from personal experience where I suspected that I needed a psychiatrist and was told to seek a pastor or priest for guidance by the replacement physician at my on campus clinic.

It's shocking, insulting, and (bitterly) laughable. But completely predictable.

The New Brunswick government was and is totally unprepared to deal with the fallout from shutting off its only abortion safety valve. Its idiotic rules created the Morgentaler Clinic and those rules eventually closed it.

And now they're up shit creek.

In May, a new organization, Reproductive Justice New Brunswick attempted to warn NB lawmakers of the impending crisis.

Did they take any notice? Make any preparations? Obviously not.

I don't know what Reproductive Justice NB plans next, but if I were involved, I'd be organizing a raft of questions for Telecare operators, to be recorded for future reference (recording telephone calls is legal in Canada if one party -- in this case the caller -- knows about the recording).

Some questions for the Teleccare operators.

1. Is abortion legal in New Brunswick?

2. Is abortion covered under provincial health insurance?

3. How do I access this service?

4. Can you direct me to medically correct information on types of abortion and what to expect?

And so on.

If the government of New Brunswick gets away with this, what's next? Sending schizophrenic patients to exorcists? Referring patients for leeching?

*And why the heck is Radio-Canada the only media organization on this? Even there, there's a bit of a mystery. An earlier story appeared then disappeared, but not before an eagle-eyed ally nabbed it and ran it through Google Translate.
Abortion in NB: women looking for information are directed to pro-life clinics 
Updated Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 10 am PDT 02 

Women who contacted the organization Telecare for information on abortion services in New Brunswick, argue that they were directed to pro-life clinics. 

Telecare is an information and advice line on health within the Ministry of Health of New Brunswick. 

Jaden Fitzherbert contacted Telecare, she was sent to three organizations openly pro-life without giving any information about the services available abortion. 

Number Birthright, among others, suggested to the young woman. 

Birthright is pro-life organization says, but does not advocate for the cause. 

More details to come.
Which raises an interesting question: Are other media being muzzled? Does the Progressive Conservative Government of David Alward have a now not-so-hidden agenda on abortion?

Stay tuned.

ADDED, June 21/14: Here are the details of Jaden Fitzherbert's research.

ADDED, June 23/14: Where to get accurate info on abortion in New Brunswick.

UPDATE (July 4/14): There is now a crowdsourcing effort to at least continue the lease on the clinic. A first step in taking back control of women's rights in NB.

UPDATE (July 23/14): Informal poll on provincial health hotlines. Mostly acceptable. Only in New Brunswick (big surprise), Nova Scotia, and Manitoba do telehealth operators refer people seeking information on abortion to "fake clinics."

Thursday 19 June 2014

Fuck PETA: why feminists are critical.

Another day, another *protest*, another dollar for PETA.

When mercenary mansplainers and faux-progressives grouse about being deprived of their eye candy entitlements - it's the 1970s all over again! Shulamith Firestone nailed it when she said: "Radical men may advocate certain freedoms for women when they overlap their own interest..."  When Firestone 'went too far' in denouncing the specific forms of sexual oppression that her male comrades enjoyed as privileges for their own benefit, she was maligned for her scathing honesty.

There is much valid criticism of PETA's spurious monopoly and its claim that it is an *ethical* champion for animal rights.

Here's why many feminist thinkers - vegetarians and vegans, rescuers of abused and abandoned animals, supporters and donors to genuine animal wellbeing organizations, do NOT endorse PETA's tactical shenanigans. 
[...]PETA has more or less dropped their initial pretense that they're simply cashing in on the sex appeal of attractive spokesmodels to draw attention to the cause of animal rights. The old "I'd rather be naked than wear fur" campaigns that I remember from my childhood were cute and harmless.

PETA has since graduated to ads and PR stunts depicting women as corpses, or animal carcasses with the names of cuts of meat written on their bodies as if they're waiting to be butchered. In one charming and frequently recycled campaign, PETA recruited naked pregnant women to pose as pigs in cages.

Using sex appeal to sell social justice is as old as social justice movements, and not something to get upset about, per se. PETA has gotten into the business of selling degradation.
From here.
I’m a supporter of animal rights who eats a mostly vegetarian diet (I occasionally eat fish). I support organizations like the Humane Society and the SPCA, and I would support PETA if they didn’t make a habit of lying, misrepresenting scientific data, and using images of dehumanized scantily clad and nude women to get money and attention[...]

The same was true for objectification. Both sexual ads and non-sexual ads objectified the women in them, but the sexual ads dehumanized the women in a way that resulted in decreased support. Objectified women were also judged as lacking credibility, but that alone didn’t account for a drop in support – only dehumanization did that.

The other interesting characteristic of this paper is that it is the first to show a link between the dehumanization of women and unethical behavior unrelated to gender and sex. Many feminists have made this point in the past, so it’s interesting to see a study that supports the assertion. I hope we see more research in the area, despite the fact that it will probably do little to convince the people at PETA or the men who constantly argue that the continued objectification of women is no cause for concern.
From here

The purpose of PETA's odious misogynist publicity tactics is to provide a steady influx of funds for the organization.  

Consider this.  What if the bodies thus exposed and marked up with butcher's markings were those of men resembling Mike Duffy and Rob Ford - in all their gluttonous, bloated, boozy, purple-veined raddled girth? 

Now that would surely repel the RibFest customers and put them off eating meat, at least in proximity to such protest.

Disgusting?  Yes. 

Degrading?  Yes.  

De-humanizing?  Yes.

But unlike the ongoing use of comely, attractive female interns and volunteers as tasty tidbits, exploiting such men would not be conducive to raising more millions$$$ for PETA's well-larded coffers.

One last word

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Not-so-gentle news from the East

Oh dear, Canada's Gentle Island is showing a narsty streak of intolerance, yea, verily, even bullying.

The presentation of an award meant to honour a pro-choice group over the weekend was postponed because the organizer was concerned about safety.

Alex Maine, project director for the Isleawards, told CBC News he received 30 to 40 emails and calls protesting his group's decision to honour the P.E.I. Reproductive Rights Organization.

"I would say that they had threatening attitude, but not directly threatening," said Maine.
And it gets worse.

Funny thing, this isn't the first time things have gotten narsty over women's rights.

When it looked like a young woman annoyed by her second-class status on the Gentle Island was up for a leadership award, anti-choice adults launched a bullying campaign to beat her.

That blew up real good as it seems the current foot-stomping whinge-fest is about to too.

And more news from the East. Pro-choice women in New Brunswick are keeping the heat on the government over its antediluvian abortion policy and it's getting media coverage.

The new government advisory agency on women’s issues in New Brunswick, the Voices of New Brunswick Women, is calling on the province to immediately repeal the regulation that they say places barriers on access to abortion.
. . .
In a media release, Voices of New Brunswick Women said that only New Brunswick and P.E.I. do not abide by the [Supreme] court’s ruling and continue to impose restrictions to abortion services, 26 years later.

“It is offensive to women of this province that we do not have the same equality rights as other women in Canada,” said Kim Nash-McKinley, co chair of the group’s Consensus-Building Forum in the release. 

“We fought this battle in the 1980s and we won. We should not be forced to fight the same battles all over again,” she said.

Keep making noise, women of PEI and NB. The old farts in your provinces will react predictably and you will WIN.

Monday 16 June 2014

Should Ontario MDs Be Allowed to Refuse Basic Healthcare to Women?

There was a spot of bother a few months back when "at least three" Ottawa family doctors refused to prescribe birth control because such an act would violate their Gord-given right to control women.

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons, feeling the heat, has decided to revisit its policy on human rights and is inviting public input.

The site says the questionnaire will take only a few minutes and it does, but first you should read the existing policy.

It's not all bad but does provide some pretty wide wiggle-room for anti-choicers.

After citing some "general principles" from the Ontario Human Rights Codes, all good in my opinion, the policy offers this (bold mine).

College Expectations
The College has its own expectations for physicians who limit their practice, refuse to accept individuals as patients, or end a physician-patient relationship on the basis of moral or religious belief.

In these situations, the College expects physicians to do the following:

Communicate clearly and promptly about any treatments or procedures the physician chooses not to provide because of his or her moral or religious beliefs.

Provide information about all clinical options that may be available or appropriate based on the patient’s clinical needs or concerns. Physicians must not withhold information about the existence of a procedure or treatment because providing that procedure or giving advice about it conflicts with their religious or moral beliefs.

Treat patients or individuals who wish to become patients with respect when they are seeking or requiring the treatment or procedure. This means that physicians should not express personal judgments about the beliefs, lifestyle, identity or characteristics of a patient or an individual who wishes to become a patient. This also means that physicians should not promote their own religious beliefs when interacting with patients, nor should they seek to convert existing patients or individuals who wish to become patients to their own religion.

Advise patients or individuals who wish to become patients that they can see another physician with whom they can discuss their situation and in some circumstances, help the patient or individual make arrangements to do so.
OK, what's with the namby-pambyness? "In some circumstances"? Should be "in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES refer a patient to a practitioner whom the referrer KNOWS will provide the needed service." They can't get away with waving their hands and saying, "See someone else."

The situation is particularly problematic in under-served areas. What if there is only one OB-GYN for a large area and he or she refuses to prescribe contraception (or some forms of it), insert IUDs, or perform abortions?

What if one or more of a small number of GPs for a region refuses to prescribe birth control or refer for abortion?

How far do they expect women to travel to get basic everyday healthcare?

I don't know how it could be implemented, but the special circumstances of under-served areas require some creative thinking on the part of the College.

In any event, referrals must be mandatory. No exceptions.

We'll say it again. Women's rights and women's healthcare are NOT fucking conscience issues.

Public Service Section
Here's the survey. If you have a few minutes and care about this issue, please give them your thoughts.

Also on its invitation page is a quick poll, one question.
Do you think a physician should be allowed to refuse to provide a patient with a treatment or procedure because it conflicts with the physician’s religious or moral beliefs?

Yes or No.

Currently there are 1090 votes, 984 of which say religion trumps patient care. That's 90%. And that's hard to believe.

LifeShite is directing readers to the survey and quick poll. Gee, do you think they're freeping it?

Since we know most casual, i.e. non-frothing, fetus fetishists have the attention span of a gnat, that's probably as much as they're going to do.

So, certainly answer the one quick question, but if you can take the time, please do the survey.

ADDED: There's also a discussion board. Some interesting stuff there, but lots of whinging from the usual suspects.

Saturday 14 June 2014

What about the Children??!11!??

For so-cons, it's aaallll about the children.

The new prostitution bill, C36, among other things, would criminalize the selling of sex anywhere children might reasonably be expected to be present, which given the little buggers' omnipresence is literally anywhere.

Because as pearl-clutching Focus on the Family lady, Andrea Mrozek, says: "Parents don’t want to see massage parlours next to ballet schools."

Though, twitterer Voice of tReason points out there is some overlap.

The cyber-bullying law, C13, similarly "protects" children.
MacKay said C-13, also known as the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, reflected the government’s commitment "to ensuring that our children are safe from online predators and from online exploitation."

And the practice of warrantless searches by police, savaged by the Supreme Court this week, allows cops to go after evil child pornographers without the inconveeeenience of convincing a judge that there's merit to their hysteria suspicions.

But. When it comes to exposing kids to gory, faked-up photos supposedly of aborted fetuses, protecting the children gets thrown out with the bathwater to preserve, yes, you guessed it, FREE SPEECH.

Oddly, parents who don't seem overly concerned with school-yard prostitution, are quite ticked over traumatizing flyers shoved in their mailboxes for their children to find and freak out over.

Two cities in Canada have been targetted by the Centre for Bioethical Reform, aka the Fetusmobile people, for their frankly named "Face the Children" project.

Parents in Calgary are pissed off and people in Hamilton want a law against the abusive practice.

So, Petey, how about a law called "Protecting Children from Nutbars with Psychotic Fetus Fetishes"?


Monday 9 June 2014

C36 = CONtempt for women and CONtempt for the law.

Last week Justice Minister Peter MacKay, channeling all the prurient lunacy of General Jack D. Ripper and the worst pearl-clutching clichés of a Victorian schoolmarm, presented Bill C36 in the House of Commons.

The language Petey used and repeated for emphasis was quite revealing.

Harper and MacKay's new bill - C36 The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, the latest CPC government crap legislation and named the opposite of what it actually does - offers in one venal and meretricious piece of legal flimflam the worst of Con bias, prejudice and hatred.

It is a loathsome pottage of spitefulness (directed at the Supreme Court of Canada), class prejudice, racism, misogyny and fundamentalist religiosity.

The reaction on Twitter ranged from pithy excoriations by sex workers, lawyers, non-abolitionist feminists, charter experts and human rights advocates, to PMO-issued speaking points barked by CPC trained seals and fatuous accolades by anti-prostitution organizations.

This perspective was odd and interesting, with a focus on the utilitarian and economic aspects of sex work which allows a detached evaluation of the Nordic and New Zealand models. However its breezy conclusion: 
«..because the government regulates the activities of industries in which workers are put at risk, but also because machines have replaced much of the dangerous work that was previously done by workers the current state of technology is such that machines will soon be capable of providing the same services currently provided by sex workers. You don’t have to be an economist to predict that while governments have failed to reduce participation in the sex trades, technology is very likely to succeed» 
doesn't address the very basic human needs this service industry meets - and that machinery would likely not.

The last decades have seen an expanded commercial development of dolls that replicate some aspect of human bodies; though some are crafted to resemble in minute details all physical details of known porn actors, they are essentially very expensive, static silicone sex toys.  There's a niche market for (mostly) men whose sexual proclivities are geared towards the forcible penetration of beautifully crafted, inert objets d'art with compliant orifices.  It's worth glancing at the NSFW websites of Real Doll, Doll Story and Fantasy Sex Dolls to get a sense of which traits are valued and deemed desirable.

This segues aptly into the most lucid, trenchant and fierce deconstruction of sex work that I have read.

«What is prostitution? Are women selling a service, or are they selling themselves, as a commodity?

Many supporters of the Nordic model, both in feminist and family-values circles, say it’s the latter. Prostitution, they say, is a commodity sale. It is inherently objectifying and exploitative, they argue. It is itself a harm, even if all the associated harms can be eliminated. A woman who believes she is freely choosing her job has to be wrong about that, they argue. She is a victim whether she knows it or not.

Conservative MP Joy Smith is one of the strongest voices on this side of the debate, who says she recognizes “prostitution as an industry that is inherently harmful to women and girls and therefore must be eliminated.” She favours the Nordic model.

If you believe that selling sex means selling women, you believe that a woman’s value equals her capacity to have sex.

Framing this as a gender-equality argument is ironic, because that same notion underpins many of the world’s most sexist ideas — including the idea, still in place in some parts of the world, that rape is a property crime.

We in Canada don’t generally talk about rape that way any more, but we still use that language when we talk about prostitution. We use phrases like “selling her body” or even “selling herself” — rather than “selling sex.”

To assume that prostitution commodifies women, we have to also think a certain way about heterosexual sex. We have to think of it as male access to a woman’s body — not as something a woman does with her body. This is the "why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free" way of seeing women’s sexuality. Again, not exactly a gender-equality argument.»

(I interrupt Kate Heartfield's thoughtful prose with a crude example that illustrates how a married woman, in this case a politician's wife, is subjected to that very degradation that so incensed MacKay. Juxtapose this with the passage here in which Rob Ford attempts to traffick Renata. Also, if sex-workers were to publish clients' names, all would see that putative "family-values" rightwing Con men make up the majority of their lists.) 

«There is another way of looking at sex: that a woman’s value as a human being has nothing to do with whom she chooses to have sex with or how often or what conditions she imposes on that choice. If this is our assumption, then a woman who sells sex is not selling herself. She isn’t turning herself into a commodity, and neither is anyone else. Sex is merely the service she sells.»

Registered and practical nurses, athletes, child care workers, lawyers, therapists, morticians: all provide professional services that sometimes require that they engage in a particular activity that some people might find repellant and disgusting. The specific *ickiness* of a task does not detract from the knowledge, respect and dignity they bring to their jobs

What is most disappointing to me in this whole debate is the participation of abolitionist feminists who give credence to Andrea Dworkin's pragmatic and ideological analysis of women's bodies as pornographed and fetishized commodities.  Believing this construct to be so deeply embedded in all institutions that it cannot be uprooted, they think that in order to limit the horrific harm that's done to women who are trafficked or trapped by poverty and many vulnerabilities in the "sex trade", they are obliged to align themselves with punitive and sex-phobic Reformatory Evangelical conservative legislation.

Whatever their expertise, critics of C36 agree that it will NOT keep women safe; it will probably endanger them MORE than the old law did.

And, just in case you know people who still don't get why C36 is so MASSIVELY WRONG, direct them to Tabatha Southey's splendid slam dunk.

ADDED: Money for sex, sex for money is a personal reflection on sex work that I posted in March this year.

MORE: Joyce Arthur deconstructs the toxic misogynist religious ideology at the core of C36.

Saturday 7 June 2014

Montreal Simon Does FetusBaggers!

Back here I asked for someone with mad Photoshop skillz to meld a couple of images.

Look who answered the call! One of the best and most inimitable! Montreal Simon hisownself.

Doesn't that perfectly capture the creepy insanity of TeaBaggers' obsession with feti?

Thank you so much, Simon. I think I'm developing a wee obsession of my own now -- what can I blog about that needs that illustration?

Friday 6 June 2014

Tea Bagger Misogynists Target Liberal Party

Look out, Liberals!

Not only are the fetus fetishists gunning for you in a testerical new petition whinging about Trudeau's discriminatinon against Xians, they have other plans as well.

They are going to reprise their attempted take-over of the party from 30 years ago.

In particular, they're targeting the new ridings.

Here is Campaign Lie's Jim Hughes:

“Nomination meetings for those 30 new ridings will be held by each party. If we have a large number of card-carrying pro-lifers in each of these 30 new ridings it consequently increases the chances of being able to elect 30 new, pro-life MPs. Our goal is to have a large number of party members in every riding of the country,” says the website.

At the moment, there are only four or five remaining anti-choice Liberals. Karygiannis is turning to municipal politics and maybe some of the others will take the hint and decline to run next time.

Nonetheless it spells trouble for the Liberals.
Mr. [Nik] Nanos [of Nanos Research] compared organizations like the Campaign Life Coalition to the Tea Party in the U.S. where they play a critical role in determining the outcome of nominating their party’s candidates but have a less important role in Congressional elections. 

“They don’t necessarily play a significant role in the outcome of elections but they can punch above their political weight in a nomination race where 50 members can tip the balance in favour of one particular candidate or another. That’s the risk. It’s unlikely that those voters would have an impact on the election writ large,” said Mr. Nanos.

“This is the variation of the Tea Party impact. The Tea Party cannot affect the outcome of the U.S. election, but they can have a significant influence on who is [elected] through the primary process. That’s kind of the potential political heft that those groups have basically on nominations if they decide to get engaged.”
So, a bunch of Tea Bagger misogynists try to take over nomination meetings or ridings themselves. Liberal Head Office squelches them.

Cue MASSIVE whine-fest.

Here's some info on the previous attempt, Liberals for Life.
Liberals for Life was a pro-life advocacy group that worked within the Liberal Party of Canada during the 1980s and early 1990s. Some of its members were also affiliated with the Campaign Life Coalition, and, as such, the group was often accused of entryism.

According to its members, Liberals for Life was created after the national victory of Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative Party in the 1984 federal election. The organization attracted little attention until the early 1990s, when it endorsed Tom Wappel in his bid for the party leadership, and gained control of several riding associations.

The Liberal Party's constitution was amended to allow the leader to appoint candidates in certain ridings in 1992. Jean Chrétien defended the change as necessary to prevent "single-issue groups" from taking over the Liberal Party. It was generally understood that Liberals for Life was the primary target of this remark.

The movement effectively dissolved in 1993 after the Liberal Party formed government.
Chantal Hébert remembers (video here at around 9:30 mark).

It ain't gonna be pretty.

What needs to happen is that we and sensible people like Sandy Garossino must advocate and insist that abortion is NOT a "conscience issue", NOT a "free speech issue."

Abortion rights are essential to women's basic human right to bodily autonomy.

Indeed, is anything a "conscience issue" these fraught days?

I gotta learn to PhotoShop. If anyone is inclined, it would be very cool to replace the tea bags with fetus dolls.

UPDATE: k'in in the comments points out that they tried it in the 2012 by-election in Toronto-Danforth. Didn't work then either.

MORE UPDATE: Trifon Haitas, wannabe Liberal for Life, is a candidate in municipal election in Richmond Hill.

WOOHOO! Look what Montreal Simon made for me!

I haz excellent friends.

Schrödinger's Shooter

Dear firearm owner. Thank you for reading.

First off, we will assume that you have good intentions. You own a firearm or many firearms because:

1) you hunt animals to provide your family with animal protein,
2) you are skilled and proficient with the use of these weapons and you go to firing ranges in the same way that golfers go to driving ranges,
3) you inherited these firearms from family members and you treasure the memories associated with these objects,
4) you are steeped in an ethnic and historical tradition of owning firearms to protect yourself and your family,
5) you are a US citizen who believes in second amendment rights,
6) you have voluntarily registered your firearm with a regulatory organization. Should your weapon(s) be stolen, you would report the theft to the police, and
7) you consciously remove bullets from the weapon; you lock the weapon and its ammunition in separate, secure containers to ensure the safety of your loved ones.

So far, so good. You seem to be a responsible human being, acutely aware that your firearms have the potential to be used to kill people or to commit a crime.

Now here's the challenge.

While there are firearm owners who willingly observe any of the above, there are organizations - well funded by weapons manufacturers - who lobby the US government to prevent it from regulating the possession or use of firearms in any way.

This allows irresponsible, dangerous, murderous, mentally unstable people to acquire firearms without any provisions for tracking or monitoring the arsenals they may be gathering.

This means if somebody reports murderous threats that an ex-partner, ex-employee, ex-associate has uttered against them, police have few or no records to verify if this individual has the means to carry them out.

In an odd twist recently, it appears mothers against Open Carry and the powerful NRA are moving towards a showdown; will the Second amendment triumph over motherhood?

And when people start openly carrying firearms in some US states under the guise of wanting to defend themselves against imagined or possible threats, we have to ask themselves:

Will this individual shoot us? We have no way of knowing if an individual holding a firearm is a responsible owner or someone about to deliberately commit murder.

Schrödinger's shooter.

Are we overreacting?

In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths each day and more than three deaths each hour.

73,505 Americans were treated in hospital emergency departments for non-fatal gunshot wounds in 2010.

Firearms were the third-leading cause of injury-related deaths nationwide in 2010, following poisoning and motor vehicle accidents.

Between 1955 and 1975, the Vietnam War killed over 58,000 American soldiers – less than the number of civilians killed with guns in the US in an average two-year period.

In the first seven years of the US-Iraq War, over 4,400 American soldiers were killed. Almost as many civilians are killed with guns in the US, however, every seven weeks.


You, the responsible firearm owner may think you don’t know anyone who would actually shoot and kill somebody or allow their firearms exploited this way but consider the sheer number of deaths from shootings that occur every year.

Fortunately, you’re a responsible firearm owner. We’ve established that. Now that you’re aware that there’s a problem, you are going to go out of your way to fix it, correct?

This does NOTHING to fix the problem, nor to indicate any goodwill and collaboration in preventing future mass shootings.  Who exactly, funds the Canadian National Firearms Association?  And how much did the weapons manufacturing industry pay Harper's Reform-Conservative-Evangelical party to destroy the long-gun registry?

The current state of firearms control in Canada, here.

Much gratitude to Shrödinger's Rapist, a brilliant blogpost that first developed this analogy with regard to a reasonable reticence that women may have when trusting men.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Harper's revisionism - updated

PMSHithead is off to Europe to add more selfies to his MASSIVE gallery of photo ops that feature mostly his-self.

This might be awkward, given Harper's first stop, and his government's crusade against unions but ... no.

InCONvenient perhaps, but nothing that a judicious pruning of facts - something that his Politburo/PMO excels at doing - can't fix.

The irony in all this of course is that a large chunk of the CPC base is composed of folks who escaped totalitarian regimes, came to Canada, thrived here and were CONned by the party's Reformist/Evangelical populist rhetoric.

There's a reason certain countries outlaw specific religious organisations, unless they're complicit with those in power.  Authoritarian political parties do not want to be undermined.  Added: Nor do they want religious ideologies competing with their own.

As our Parliament surely devolves into the very type of corrupt Stalinist government that Kenney and Harper denounce but only when it suits their purpose, one sane response is to continue to prick holes in their puffery.

Grand merci to Alison at Creekside for the above.

UPDATE: Now with added totalitarian goodness! 

The [Harper] government is expanding its surveillance of public activities to include all known demonstrations across the country, a move that collects information even on the most mundane of protests by Canadians.

The email requesting such information was sent out Tuesday by the Government Operations Centre in Ottawa to all federal departments.

“The Government Operations Centre is seeking your assistance in compiling a comprehensive listing of all known demonstrations which will occur either in your geographical area or that may touch on your mandate,” noted the email, leaked to the Citizen. “We will compile this information and make this information available to our partners unless of course, this information is not to be shared and not available on open sources. In the case of the latter, this information will only be used by the GOC for our Situational Awareness.”

The Government Operations Centre or GOC is supposed to provide strategic-level coordination on behalf of the federal government “in response to an emerging or occurring event affecting the national interest.”

It assesses the requirement for developing plans to prevent or deal with emergencies such as pandemics, earthquakes, forest fires and floods. It also monitors overseas situations such as the 2011 crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

But the Government Operations Centre has also been involved, as an intelligence clearing house, in compiling information on Aboriginal protesters.

From here.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Bang for the Buck

A few days ago, there was this story about fetus fetishists being "upset" over funding of morning-after pills under the Maternal Health Initiative. (Note to editors: the word "stupid" is only one character more than "upset" and way more accurate.)

Anti-abortion activists say the federal government has broken its pledge to leave abortion out of its maternal health initiative, just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper wrapped up an international summit Friday with a fresh commitment of $3.5 billion to improve maternal health around the world.

The issue is the morning-after pill, a.k.a. emergency contraception. The morans are still claiming that it is an "abortifacient." It is not. There is no scientific controversy about this.

The morans are simply lying. Again.

But buried in the same article was this bit of info.

International Planned Parenthood notes that of $2.28 billion spent as of March 2014, only 0.55 per cent went to family planning, despite the fact that 222 million women around the world lack access to “a range of modern methods of contraception.”

Back in 2010, when Motherhood Steve was rolling out his plans for the Women of the World, there was a MASSIVE brouhaha over whether any family planning would be funded atall atall. Leave aside abortion. Motherhood Steve wouldn't touch condoms, b.c. pills, diaphragms, implants, etc. etc.

That idiocy blew up real good on him and Canada seemed to relent.

Now we find out that a measly 0.55% is being spent on family planning.

Let's consult the Steve's good buddies at the Gates Foundation, shall we?

However, more than 220 million women in developing countries who don’t want to get pregnant lack access to contraceptives and voluntary family planning information and services. Less than 20 percent of women in Sub-Saharan Africa and barely one-third of women in South Asia use modern contraceptives. In 2012, an estimated 80 million women in developing countries had an unintended pregnancy; of those women, at least one in four resorted to an unsafe abortion.

So, as always, we come back to square one of Abortion Reduction Bingo. Hate abortion? Support contraception. Support all kinds of contraception. Support as much contraception as possible.

And you don't have to hate abortion to support contraception.

Again, from the Gates Foundation, the benefits are huge.
Voluntary family planning is one of the most cost-effective investments a country can make in its future. Every dollar spent on family planning can save governments up to 6 dollars that can be spent on improving health, housing, water, sanitation, and other public services.

If my math (and calculator) are correct, 0.55% of $2.28 billion is just about $12.5 million (or about six junkets to the Middle East for Motherhood Steve and his pals and lackeys).

But multiply that by 6 and we get $75 million to spend on other health needs, water, sanitation etc.

OK, stick with me here. What if we spent a whopping 1% on family planning? Or, hey, let's go crazy and spend 2% on family planning!

That would be amount to $300 million in savings to be put toward other health needs in desperately strapped countries.

That strikes me -- admittedly NOT a trained economist -- as pretty damned good bang for the buck.

Butbutbut, the base would be "upset."

So, screw you, poor women. Who the hell do you think you are, wanting to decide when and how many pregnancies you want or can handle?

Canadian fetus fetishists will decide that for you.

Monday 2 June 2014

Theocratic Prisons for the Crime of Being Imprisonable: Part 1000

Never, ever expect me to believe someone when they blather on about morality needing divine sourcing. And don't bother with the "No True Scotsman" fallacy that people, especially those noted below, weren't authentically 'Christian'. When we talk about the horrors of the Residential schools across Canada for Indigenous children and the "Christian Brothers" for their wards in Newfoundland, we should always keep in mind that the systemic, State-approved, religiously run prisons (because that's what they are when people are locked into them with no chance to leave of their own free will) were honed in Europe for generations before being exported to the 'new world'.

How many children that survived this kind of torture and abuse went on to exist as spirit-mutilated adults, and even torturers of children in their turn? What else had they learned at the hands of the 'merciful', 'civilizing', 'soul saving' regimes? We're all harmed by this kind of malfeasant crushing of the young and vulnerable.

As Avicenna says:

The fact of the matter is that no one did anything, no one cared about these children because bastards didn’t matter. The Catholic claim of “Every Child is Sacred” was a lie (yet again) and in being holier than thou the Church forgot what the world humane means.

Just remember, what was done in Ireland in its Homes and Magdalene Laundries are the result of theocratic control of women's bodies being given free rein inside a society. Only now, in increasingly secular societies, is the hypocrisy and bloody ledgers of theocrats coming to light. Remember this and those who paid the ultimate price, when someone tries to convince you churches know how to deal with pregnant women and uppity children.

Please don't say such tortures were 'behaviour of the culture of the time', which makes it okey dokey to dismiss. I loathe that handwaving excuse, which is handily trotted out by those who framed the 'morality' punishments in the first conflict of interest there...much. There are many contemporary accounts in 'the time' that counter such apologistics, but the key is, opposition was not wielded by the State and in far too many cases, the State was complicit with religious authorities to maintain the illusion of 'moral authenticity' in a Herculean cognitive dissonance and, not incidentally, desire to keep the populace at large from turning on them.

The same sort of unaccountable 'correction' of those deemed 'morally deficient' is being demanded right-bloody-now by religious institutions and leaders. There's no shortage even now, of religiously-based 'retreats' where adolescent girls and boys are sent, willingly or not, where they are forcibly confined and experience a range of extra-legal punishment they're not supposed to expose to the greater community. There's no shortage now of "pregnancy centres" run by religious folks, whose main outcome is to shame pregnant women into continuing their pregnancies, no matter the burden to the woman in question...but don't count on them for actual support of the pregnancy or following motherhood. And that's without State backing and *with* the growing influence of the information flow along the intertubes.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It can't happen here, except it has, and it can't happen long as we in Canada make certain it doesn't. We owe it to those whose suffering and deaths is our signpost.

/thanks to Avicenna at "A Million Gods"