Monday 29 December 2014

The Wrap on Reproductive Justice 2014: In Canada, Looking Pretty Good

DJ! is happy to report that on the reproductive justice front, at least, 2014 was not too bad. Well, depending on where you are, of course.

In Canada, I think we've turned a ginormous corner. In fact, 2014 was more a year of what did not happen rather than what did.

*First, there was not one single public opinion poll on abortion in 2014. None. Nobody wanted to pony up to pay for what everybody knows. Abortion rights are a done deal here. And we're sick to fucking death of talking about it. (See UPDATE below.)

Next, Justin Trudeau came right out and said that the Liberal Party of Canada is pro-choice and anybody who is not prepared to vote accordingly on such legislation should take their allegiance elsewhere. There was some squealing from the predictable dusty old corners of the party to which Trudeau replied:
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, faced with an open letter from seven former Liberal MPs denouncing him for his stance on abortion, tweeted that the days "when old men get to decide what a woman does with her body are long gone.
And speaking of dusty, crusty, fusty old corners, there were just a few feeble pokes at the back-door of abortion rights, namely from at-long-fucking-last-about-to-retire Maurice Vellacott and Stephen ("The Wanker") Woodworth.

On Vellacott's motions, The Star reported (and was proven correct):
Both motions are almost certainly doomed to fail. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been consistent on having no desire to reopen the abortion debates in Canada, and his party has shut down numerous efforts by pro-life caucus members to do so.

In Saskatchewan, local fetus freaks launched a letter-writing campaign to force under-age people to get parental consent for an abortion, but after some schooling, Health Minister Dustin Duncan replied that abortion restrictions are not up to the government but rather the medical profession.

That's rather exhilarating to hear a politician admit, isn't it?

Even more exhilarating to us is the stink of acknowledged failure emanating from Official Fetus Freakdom. Its focus on one method of abortion, rather than the entire evil practice, for its annual March of the Fetii Bunfest signals their admission that instituting an abortion ban is beyond them, but hey give us a little sop, eh? Ban just this one method, pretty pleeeeeze?

Perhaps also in recognition that they're losing badly, attendance was significantly down at the March for Lies, and organizers didn't even bother to whine when their inflated estimates were dismissed by all legit observers.

All of these non-events betoken a growing shift towards seeing abortion as simply not a moral issue. Worldwide, people are increasingly accepting abortion and birth control as simple facts of life of no consequence to any but the individuals involved.

Now, for some things that did happen.

First, New Brunswick!!!! A new generation of activists made themselves heard to a (hopefully) new generation of politicians. We will watch to see how this plays out, but we are tremendously proud of our children and grandchildren for their hard work and clever strategizing.

Next, PEI where outgoing Premier Ghiz finally comes out as pro-choice but anti-action. He seems content to live in a place where people can't have nice things, despite the fact that nice local abortions would actually save the government money. More work needed there.

Over at the brand spanking new Museum of Human Rights, a woman's right to choose was publicly and federally celebrated in an exhibit featuring Dr Henry Morgentaler.

And lastly, a very cool thing happened in Ontario. When it was pointed out to the Trillium Foundation, which dispenses public funds from the government's various numbers rackets, that it was supporting a religious organization whose mission it is to deny those very human rights, it promptly yanked the dough.

In the new year, we -- and many other reproductive justice watchers -- are expecting Health Canada to approve the "gold standard" of medical abortion, mifepristone.

This act will finally prove to the world and to all of us that Canada is fully committed to PRO-CHOICE policies. Even total nutbars like SUZY ALLCAPS recognizes that it will be game over for her and her gang.

And Canada is never going back.

There will be, of course, a few ongoing battles, but the war will be over.

(Things are not so rosy in many other places and if we get a few minutes, we'll report on those events and developments for 2014.)

UPDATE (January 3/15): Wrong. There was the annual Angus Reid Global poll showing no change.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Putting Health Canada on Notice

At long fucking last, a decision is coming on mifepristone, originally called RU486.
Health Canada has set an internal deadline of mid-January to finally make a decision on the abortion pill, a drug that is already available in 60 countries but has been stuck in Canada’s drug-approval pipeline for more than three years.

The pro-choice advocates and researchers who have been helping a small European drug company with its Canadian application say they have encountered an unusual amount of antipathy from the regulators who will decide if Canadian women get access mifepristone, a pill that can end an early pregnancy when combined with a drug that is already sold in this country.
For context, mifeprisone was first approved in France in September, 1988.

Oddly, it was in January 1988 that the Supreme Court repealed Canada's abortion laws. It was also the year that Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles and Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal. Mulroney was PM and Svend Robinson was the first MP to come out as gay.

Doesn't that seem like a rather long fucking time ago to you? Ya think our nanny government has dragged its feet long enough?

Of course, there is no way no how this has anything to do with the rabid Fetus Freaks who vote for the Corrupt Party of Canada and who had "RU4Life" (geddit?) as their theme for this year's March of the Feti event.

This is the Last Bastion for them. Even raving lunatic SUZY ALLCAPS recognizes that once abortion is taken out of the exclusive purview of hospitals and clinics and put directly into the discreet hands of patients and healthcare providers, it's OVER for them.

The approval of the "gold standard" in medical abortion would be a clear win for sanity, science, patient autonomy and privacy. With growing activism around abortion access in Canada (see New Brunswick and PEI), the availability of this drug will help a lot, especially for women in rural and remote areas.

So. Will Health Canada approve it?

They'd better.

Unless they'd rather see a reprise of what Chris Selley called "online hellfire".

(We've blogged about medical abortion extensively. Many posts with informative links can be found here and here. One of my faves includes a link to a study showing that RU486 is safer than tylenol.)

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Public Funding of Fake Clinics in Alberta: The Wrap

We have some catching up to do.

We revealed that public funds from the Alberta Lottery Fund were being handed over to fake clinics and profiled the first lucky fake clinic, Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre Society (Red Deer), here.

Part 2 on Medicine Hat Pregnancy Support Society. And Part 3 on Hinton Crisis Pregnancy Association.

We published a letter by Celia Posnyiak asking Alberta Culture about that funding and another asking the mayor of Hinton about its creative additional funding of local fetus freaks through photo radar money.

We heard from the mayor of Hinton.

And now, after nearly a month, there's been a reply by Carl Royan, Director, Community Grants, Alberta Culture, to Celia's letter.

After some introductory blah-blah:

The Community Spirit Program aimed to partner with Individual Albertans who donated monies to eligible nonprofit organizations by providing those organizations wit proportional grants based on the donations received. [Names of three fake clinics queried] met the Community Spirit Program (SCP) eligibility criteria, received donations from individuals [sic] Albertans who supported their activities, and therefore qualified for funding under the program. As you may know, the SCP was discontinued as a result of a budget decrease the department faced in Budget 2013.

Followed by signing-off blah-blah.

Everyone agrees that this response is about what was expected.

Well, heck, when the mayor of Calgary points to the stereotype of Albertans as "hillbillies", who are we to disagree?

And we would never ever pull some central-Canada-superiority shit by highlighting the timely and responsible action of the Ontario Trillium Foundation when it found out it was funding Ontario hillbillies.

So. There's no joy in Hillbilly Land, but that doesn't mean we're going to stop.

In fact, our search of the handy Alberta Culture database that turned up the original three fake clinics was flawed. We used the key word "pregnancy". We should also have used "pro-life" because looky here.

Under the same Community Spirit Program, Edmonton Pro-life Society got just over $23K in 2008/2009.

I'm absolutely sure it fits the eligibility criteria too, which seems mainly to be that these outfits are duly accredited as charities by CRA, the same gang that allows the Fraser Institute to operate as a charity.

From its CRA filings, the Edmonton fake clinic's costs and revenues run about $70-80K a year. And it consistently reports "government funding" of between 10-15% of total income. Rather nice for them.

But in 2010, it reported a whopping 25% of revenue from government.

Now, lest we get carried away and believe the BS that Edmonton Prolife offers anything like accurate medical information about all options, have a look at this.
An abortion, intending to end the life of the child, never has to happen. It is never the only option. So why do people have abortions?

There are many reasons why women or couples decide to have an abortion. An internet search will yield various results, statistics, and percentages, citing socio-economic reasons, not wanting children or any more children, fear of health risks, and many others.Abortion takes an innocent human life, and the gravity of that fact cannot be mitigated, it is important remember that many factors can go into an abortion decision, such as fear, desperation, and ignorance (the person(s) have perhaps become convinced by others whom they trust that the preborn child is not a living human being).

For those people who wish to see Abortion, we provide the following information.This video is not pleasant, but it must be seen. Hundreds of innocent unborn children are torn to pieces every day in Canada because most people simply don't know what abortion actually does. With the exception of the final scene (a second-trimester fetus), all of the video you will see depicts children who were killed during first-trimester abortions.
That's the intro to a link to 4-minute video with a warning that it's disturbing. They don't warn that its also full of manipulative bullshit.

If we had the time, we'd try to investigate where that consistent 10-15% of revenues labelled "government" actually comes from.

But we don't. And it looks like Alberta is fine with its unique "culture."

Next up, we have been informed that two fake clinics in BC also get lottery dough.

Maybe BC will prove a little more enlightened.

Sunday 14 December 2014

First, do no harm...

Upon successfully completing their basic training, and before they take on the years of residency that will allow them to practice their science, skills and craft in a medical specialty of their choice, medical students pledge to the principals of the Hippocratic Oath*.

In Ontario, the specific application of that pledge came under scrutiny in the last year with regard to women's reproductive health rights. In its modern form, the Oath is centred upon patient care. "... Above all, I must not play at God."

DJ! has been covering this issue from the outset, here, and here

Ontario’s new policy is unlikely to put the discussion to rest, said Carolyn McLeod, professor of philosophy at the University of Western Ontario. Patients, particularly women, will undoubtedly find it troubling if a doctor refuses their request for birth control. Doctors who object to abortion might feel uncomfortable or complicit providing patients with a referral, but setting out a clearer policy could help connect patients to care providers who can best serve their needs, Prof. McLeod said.

“To receive abortion care from somebody who is morally opposed to abortion, I think, is harmful,” she said. “I think for patients’ sake, if for no one else’s, there should be the ability for the provider to give the referral.”

Ontario’s new policy has not yet been finalized and could still be changed, depending on what the college hears during the feedback period.

Marc Gabel, former president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, said doctors could face disciplinary action if they do not comply with the new guidelines and cannot use unfounded medical reasons to withhold birth control, abortions, vasectomies, blood transfusions or other treatments.

“What we’re trying to do, I think, is set a tone to remind physicians and the public we will act professionally in ensuring their access to care and their safety,” Dr. Gabel said.

From here.

This vivid graphic

accompanied anti-Choice Pro-lies groups spin on the 'debate'.  This is their response to regulatory bodies reminding anti-Choice physicians of their professional obligations, responsibilities and duties.

No matter how the fetushists and their acolytes spin their concerns, the basis for their shrieking is fundamentally religious. Yes, a professional can abstain from engaging in activities that compromise her/his beliefs. There are nonetheless job requirements that require that she/he assist a patient in finding a practitioner who will care for, and address the needs of that patient in a timely manner. 

If Gawd-worshippy physicians won't do this, let them move on to a medical specialty or a practice where they won't be tempted to play at being Gawd.

*In my research, I came across this interesting opinion piece about the Oath. There's a relevant point about abortion.

Friday 12 December 2014

Fetus Freaks Get "Special" Permission at Parliament Hill

Like almost nobody else, DJ! reported on the MASSIVE display of anti-choice underground gas-line markers on Parliament Hill in October.

MASSIVE fizzle though it was, it now appears that it was against the rules to boot.

But, when you have friends in high places [bold mine]. . .

A visually striking anti-abortion protest on Parliament Hill technically broke several rules on the use of the public space, but federal officials made special exceptions to allow the event to proceed anyway.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair stopped to speak briefly with a volunteer that day, and five days later told a Planned Parenthood meeting that the person indicated the group had received "special" permission.

Schutten, who bought the flags wholesale, said there are no immediate plans to reprise the event in 2015, saying the 100,000 flags were later distributed in lots of 10,000 and given to affiliate groups in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia for smaller installations.
And now watch the CONs scurry away.

Marisa Monnin, spokeswoman for Heritage Minister Shelly Glover, said, "We'd like to reiterate that all individuals serving on the committee are public servants and that this decision was made independently."
Yah, sure.

In my original post, I called the little doohickeys "underground gas-line markers." The CBC articles calls them "irrigation flags". They're also know as stake flags and can be bought wholesale for the thrifty price of $7.70 per bundle of 100.

And, as promised, the Fetus Freaks are RECYCLING them!

Look where they turned up recently:
This morning, the students at Providence Reformed Collegiate, a private Christian school in Komoka, Ontario, set up the pro-life flag display on their school front lawn.
Yep. A MASSIVE movement. Brought to you by, don't forget, Dominionists.

Their stunts don't get media coverage, but their "special treatment" does. Well, hell, when you're losing the war this badly, I guess it's better to be known as cheaters than losers.

h/t for CBC story to Chris Kirouac

Monday 8 December 2014

We Hear from Hinton

Kathy Dawson got a response to her open letter to the Mayor of Hinton, Alberta. Kathy wanted to know why the town gave $10K of its photo radar bonanza (total available: $100K) to a fake pregnancy clinic.

[via email from:] Lil Wallace, Executive Assistant - Office of the Mayor; Office of the Town Manager

Dear Ms. Dawson:
Thank you for your enquiry respecting the Quality of Life grant program that Hinton offers.  Hinton is a diverse community that works and builds together.  This includes improving several aspects of the quality of life for our citizens through grants such as the Quality of Life.

The West Yellowhead Pregnancy Care Centre indicates they provide unconditional, non judgmental and long-term support to all individuals regardless of what choice they make.  One of their support programs includes a “clothing closet” where items like diapers, blankets, clothes, cribs, car seats and formula are provided to residents who are in need.  The Grant Funding Advisory Committee felt this “clothing closet” is a program worthy of supporting and council agreed with their recommendation.

Once again, thank you for your enquiry.

Rob Mackin
Town of Hinton | Gateway to the Rockies

Pretty good eh? For double-speak babblegab, it really doesn't get any better than: "This includes improving several aspects of the quality of life for our citizens through grants such as the Quality of Life." Improving the quality of life through quality of life.


And $10K for a "clothing closet"? That's a lotta diapers for a town of fewer than ten thousand souls.

And I guess "diversity" in the Gateway to the Rockies does not include reproductive rights. Because crisis pregnancy centres (CPCs) not only exist to scare the shit out of pregnant people seeking abortions, they also refuse to counsel on or offer contraception. Hinton's diversity includes abstinence-only birth control.

We did some research on West Yellowhead Fake Clinic here.

Its revenues and expenses run about $100K a year, which for a town the size of Hinton is pretty lavish.

We took a closer look at its CRA charitable filing for 2013. We wanted to see how much it was spending on its clothing closet before the generous people of Hinton stepped in.

There's only one paid employee, making $42K a year. The only non-financial revenue was donated rental space, value $21,600.

Let's have a look at that space, shall we?

Unless they have other premises, this is it. *

I have no idea what retail space costs are in Hinton, but do you think $21.6K covers the whole deal there? Or only part of the rent?

Because from Schedule 6 of the CRA filing, we find they report an "occupancy cost" of $25K.

So is that space worth $46.6K a year? Partly donated, partly paid? Or is there something odd going on here?

Other expenses: the employee, whose $42K gets up to $49K with perqs I imagine. Some other bits and bobs for a vehicle and professional services. Office expenses were just under $5K, "purchased supplies and assets" cost $5.5K, and "other expenditures" were $3.5K.

And that's it.

While adding the purchased supplies and other expenditures together we get close to $10K, there is nothing specifically for "clothes, diapers, car seats" etc.

So, it looks to me like the "clothing closet" is a fantasy and the $10K from the photo-radar scam is pure windfall.

Unless, of course, there was no existing "clothing closet" program and the generous folks at West Yellowhead Lies and Fantasies plan on providing a layette from Holt Renfrew to every child born to its clients starting this year.

At the very least, we can say that officials of the town of Hinton are pretty easily satisfied.

Because even a cursory look at the books would raise all kinds of questions.

But hey, maybe "due diligence" means something different out there.

*That image comes from Google Maps. Here are two more. Note handy proximity to booze store. Also its location on the Harley Street of Hinton, sandwiched between real health care providers of the dental and medical variety.

Note too the weird fuzzing out of the CPC's name. What's up with that? Especially since it's perfectly clear in the front-on shot.

Help Stop (or at least embarrass) CPC Cheaters

Remember the 2010 Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament movement? Then, before Twitter was as omnipresent as it is now, the CAPP Facebook group built more than 200,000 followers.

Now that the CONs have their majority and have had 4+ years to fuck the country -- and doing an excellent job at it -- we have a chance next year to get rid of the bastards.

But. They're going to do everything they can to stop us.

Including of course cheating. In each of the past three elections, CONservatives have been caught cheating.

With the absolute minimum cost or penalty.

You think they won't do it again? What or who can stop them?


Here's the petition.

It was started on December 5. When I signed about 5 p.m. yesterday (Sunday, Dec. 7), it had about 660 signatures. By 11 p.m., it had over 800.

This morning it has over 900.

These things are maddeningly slow at the beginning. But they soon start to snowball.

Let's get this Big Canadian Snowball rolling.

It's a delicious win-win for us. If it gets a respectable number of signatures, questions will be asked and the issue of election fraud(s) gets re-aired.

If it gets an impressive number of signatures, it will make CONs squirm as more questions are lobbed at them.

If it goes, as they say, viral, it will make international news. Mockery and finger-pointing will ensue. More squirming by CONs.

And Harper wins too! He gets to add to his Enemies List. :)

Well, 'tis the season. You wanna be on a List, don't you?

Monday 1 December 2014

Dear Alberta Lottery Foundation: We Have Questions

[This is a letter written to the Alberta Lottery fund on November 19, 2014, by Celia Posyniak, Executive Director, Kensington Clinic, Calgary. Some background on her concerns can be found in our series on public funding of three Alberta crisis pregnancy centres: Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre, Medicine Hat Pregnancy Support Society, and West Yellowhead Pregnancy Care Centre (Hinton). Links to CAPSS added.]

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the awarding of lottery funds to so-called crisis pregnancy centres (CPC) in Alberta.

Specifically, my concerns are with the Hinton Crisis Pregnancy Association, the Medicine Hat Pregnancy Support Society and the Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre Society in Red Deer, all of which were awarded Community Spirit Donation Grants in 2011/12 totalling $34,000.

At least two of these organizations are members of the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services (CAPSS), a “Christ-centred national ministry “whose primary mission is to discourage women from having abortions through the operation of crisis pregnancy centres and to share their faith in the process. CAPSS is the umbrella organization that provides training and resources for CPCs and members must agree to adhere to CAPSS mission and service delivery guidelines. For your convenience I have attached a copy of their “Core Documents”.[pdf]

CPCs exist to discourage vulnerable women from obtaining abortions and have been known throughout North America to use misinformation and scare tactics to achieve this goal. In fact, the Red Deer centre was once publicly exposed in an undercover operation by CTV’s W5, describing surgical instruments used in abortion as similar in appearance to “barbecue forks”. While they claim to assist all pregnant women and new mothers in need, through donations of clothing etc., the most recent issue of the CAPSS newsletter which I have enclosed, appears to lament this outcome as the majority of recipients were not “abortion minded or abortion vulnerable”.

CPCs generally do not employ health professionals or professional counsellors as these people would not be able to operate under CAPSS governing principles without violating their own professions code of ethics. CPCs claim they provide accurate information about abortion, but their code of counselling ethics forbids them from providing referrals. How can they be trusted to provide accurate information about a healthcare service in an unbiased manner, when they refuse for ideological reasons to tell clients where to obtain those same services?

It is difficult to understand how the government can on one hand support comprehensive reproductive healthcare services for women in the province, and then hand out money to organizations who would like to take fundamental reproductive rights away from women, promote junk science, refuse contraception information to unmarried people, and beyond advocating sexual abstinence*, make no contribution in the education of Albertans on safe sex practices.

To give this another perspective, would an anti-vaccination group be awarded public funds to promote their agenda against immunizations? Could a Jehovah Witness group be given funds to counsel the public on their ideological objections to blood transfusions while proselytizing?

Does the ALF have any eligibility criteria regarding an organization’s mission? What due diligence did the Alberta Lottery Foundation do to ensure that these CPCs were legitimate community assets and not religious organizations with a clear agenda of dissuading women from accessing a legal medical service and sharing their faith?

Thank you for taking the time to consider this and I look forward to your response.


Celia Posyniak
Executive Director [Kensington Clinic, Calgary, Alberta]


Good questions.

Celia reports that as of today there's been no response, but she promises to keep us informed.

If you'd like to pose some questions of your own, here's the contact information for Alberta Lottery Foundation.

* Link to Kathy Dawson's open letter to the mayor of Hinton about those "sex-ed" presentations.