Saturday 30 May 2015

MacKay and the road dishonestly taken

I gather that Peter MacKay is leaving politics, and some folks appear to be doing the dutiful "nice opponent" farewell hymns. For my part, I have absolutely zero respect for Peter MacKay -- and not just because he's been a loyal Harper toady as well as being a completely embarrassing clown and incompetent. Rather, every single moment of his career since he signed the agreement with David Orchard that he never intended to keep has been bought with that very colossal lie. If he felt he could not keep that agreement with Orchard, he should have resigned and left politics. We would, mercifully, never have heard of him again, but at the very least, he would have kept some measure of integrity. But it's long been clear to him that that matters not a whit. At least we can say of Stevie that he believes in something. I'm guessing that this is just about Petey being bright enough to see the writing on the wall.

Sunday 24 May 2015

Turned Away in PEI

This is so fucked up, it's hard to know where to begin.

One rendition: A person waits 5 hours for treatment at a Canadian emergency department then is turned away with the words "we are not comfortable dealing with this situation."

Or: A person is turned away from a hospital emergency department and told to go to a clinic in ANOTHER PROVINCE.

Or: The Minister of Health looks into the situation and is satisfied that all protocols were followed.

Here's the story as reported in the media.

Here's the story as told by the woman herself, Courtney Cudmore, to As It Happens (at 9:50 mark), or from her Facebook page.

In Prince Edward Island, while it is part of Canada where abortion is legal, abortion is simply not done.

A PEI woman was unwillingly pregnant, found a doctor to prescribe LEGAL abortion drugs, listened carefully to the instructions, and took the drugs. The instructions included what to do if the drugs did not seem to be performing as expected: Go to a hospital.

The drugs did not perform as expected, and so the woman took herself to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital emergency department.

Well, they didn't seem to know quite what to do with her. A nurse got her to give a urine sample and that was it for about 5 hours.

Finally 7:00 pm.. I get called in... The nurse gives me a johnnyshirt to put on, Obviously Im getting examined. 45 minutes later Dr. Lantz comes in. With my chart ... Looks at my chart then looks at me and says... What would you like me to do.. Ohh I don't know check me out?! I told him why I came in. "Well I will go talk to the gynecologist and see what they say" 10 minutes later... "Well we are not comfortable dealing with this situation" What really... not comfortable... What the hell is going on inside of me... I'm thinking this in my head.... and staring at him. I ask ok what did my urine sample tell you?? Are my levels dropping?? "I don't know.. all I can tell you is you are still pregnant" ok so in that breath right there his job was to do a full examination on me. If I didn't pass everything which I'm sure I didn't .. Tha'ts going to cause bigger issues for me. But he did let me know I could go to a clinic in Halifax, They would have no issue helping me. After totally getting he wasn't going to help or find me help I asked him to leave so I could put my clothes back on. But I did thank him for wasting my time.

There just was an election held on the Island, where abortion was an issue.
P.E.I.’s four male political leaders provided their party’s policy on abortion services Tuesday during a forum on women’s issues where the last remaining variable was finally clarified. Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan said P.E.I. would continue to provide abortion services but only at a Halifax hospital. It’s the same policy followed by Premier Robert Ghiz so there is no change to the status quo.

When this story broke on social media on Thursday, the media got on it and the Health Minister was asked for a comment.

Health Minister Doug Currie says he was initially highly concerned when he received messages on social media, but after following up with officials at the hospital, says he feels all proper protocols were followed.

“I was reassured that no one was denied or turned away from the emergency room (Thursday) night,” Currie said.

“I was reassured that the standard quality of care was followed and I continue to be even more motivated to work with stakeholders to continue to remove current barriers that are facing Island women that are looking to access this service.”
No one denied or turned away? Is he calling Ms Cudmore a liar?

Standard quality of care followed? Being told "we are are not comfortable" and "go to Halifax" is "standard quality of care"?

Do PEI physicians not know how to treat miscarriage? Would a woman miscarrying "normally" also be refused treatment and sent to a clinic in Nova Scotia?

Is this not dangerous, patronizing, and, well, simply OUTRAGEOUS?

Not to mention a human rights violation and a pretty prima facie case of malpractice?

The reaction was swift. PEI Abortion Rights Network wrote an open letter.

A petition was begun to have Health Minister Doug Currie removed from his position.

Ms Cudmore plans to contact a lawyer.

What else can we do?

How about alerting potential PEI patients about the patronizing asshole doctor? Ms Cudmore names a "Dr. Lantz". It seems pretty clear that this is Chris Lantz, member of a "prominent" PEI family, and -- hey, look at this -- brother of the leader of the PC party, Rob Lantz.

And how does Rob Lantz feel about abortion?

PC Leader Rob Lantz did meet the group and assured them he will maintain the status quo. … Abortion is not on the PC radar, not in the platform and there are no plans to re-open the debate.

And we'd like to know the name of the gynecologist supposedly consulted by Dr. Lantz.

Here's Ms Cudmore from her Facebook page again:
I have gone to the media as most of you already know and I will be contacting a lawyer to take legal action against the hospital. I urge ALL women who have come across difficulty in support/access to proper health care regarding abortions to take a stand now!! Don't be silent anymore.. We have a right we have a choice. All we see and hear are people slamming abortion if we stand now just maybe we might get the access and rights we deserve. This is legal and as women living on PEI we have a right to choose what we do with our bodies. ‪#‎statusquonomore‬

In other momentous news from the Gentle Island, there is a bit of panic going on over metal objects found in potatoes.

Precious PEI potatoes VIOLATED!!!!!

Last word to unexpectedly prochoice Stats Can (which is a parody account just to forestall any idiotic screeching):

Image from @ProChoicePEI.

UPDATE (May 25/15): Statement from Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.

UPDATE (May 26/15): Another harrowing story of being turned away. How many more are there? How many more will there have to be?

UPDATE (May 30/15): A new blog, The Sovereign Uterus is collecting abortion stories from PEI women. To answer the question: How many more? A: Lots.

UPDATE (May 31/15): Halifax woman opens her home to PEI women needing abortion.

Thursday 21 May 2015

WARNING! Underground Fetuses! Call Before You Dig!

Flags warning of possible underground fetuses are popping up all over.
If you drive along Springfield Road today, you may notice a swath of blue and pink flags along the side of the road.

The 10,000 flags are a silent protest by the Kelowna Right to Life Society, to ask for an abortion law in Canada.

Each one of the pink and blue flags is meant to represent 10 unborn children, matching the group's estimate of 100,000 abortions each year in Canada.
This amused me. I googled and found that underground fetus flags can be had for as little as 29¢ each, which means that the Dominionist astroturf gang, We Need a Law, deems each tragically lost blob of tissue to be worth 2.9¢ as a publicity stunt.

Because, really, fluorescent pink and blue plastic underground gasline markers are just so evocative of abortion, aren't they?

A spokesperson eloquently explains the subtle symbolism of it all.
“We are doing this to show to our community just how massive the numbers [though we were too cheap to show the much larger number we pulled out of our asses] really are,” says event organizer Marietta Egan.

“Although our political leaders claim that abortion should be safe, legal and rare, these flags show that it is happening an astonishing 100,000 times every year in Canada.”

(Fetus freaks really need to work on assembling words in an order that resembles logic. Actually, all those flags show is that a bunch of people in Kelowna really need a hobby.)

On Twitter, I asked what this image makes people think of.

And soon we got a winner!

So, all is not a stupid waste of time lost. The field of underground fetus flags reminds us to Call Before You Dig!

Or, who knows what might happen, eh?

Previous reports on dangerous underground fetuses.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Anti-Choice Inflation 2015

Today was the annual March of the Feti, March for Lies, Anti-Choice Bunfest, Futility on the Hill. Whatever.

As regular readers know, we're obsessed fascinated by what we call anti-choice inflation. Every year, march organizers claim that this year is much MASSIVER than last year.

Recap of last five years:
2011: 15K
2012: 19.5K
2013: "up to 25K"
2014: 23K
2015: "nearly 25K"

Notice anything? Yep. Inflation seems to have stalled the last couple of years.

Here's LifeShite itself: "nearly 25,000 people marched on Parliament Hill."

Here's the Ottawa Citizen which first reported "some 10,000 pro-life supporters" then a couple of hours later updated to "an estimated 8,000."

CFRA Radio reported:
About 8,000 anti-abortion activists brought traffic to a standstill in the downtown core on Thursday afternoon, as part of the annual March for Life.

The event hosted by Campaign Life Coalition saw a large number of Catholic school students from the Toronto area, brought to the capital on buses.
(And we hope, as last year, some media outlet gets on the story of who paid for the bussing of Catholic kids.)

Kady O'Malley reported the RCMP estimated the crowd at between 8,000 and 9,000. Other seasoned eye-ballers agreed: around 8,000 or just about as usual.

But the lies never stop with these people.

One can only conclude they bloody well know their numbers are stagnant if not shrinking. March for Life is dying.

BONUS: A topless protester stormed the stage again this year, along with what was described as someone dressed as a fetus. I hadda go looking for that.


ADDED May 18/15: Of course! Amateur statistician develops new delusion: she can estimate crowds better than seasoned viewers and RCMP. And note I have my own tag at her place, Fake Person. Dearie, I am pseudonymous, NOT anonymous.

Abuse of Power All Round

Up-front, a few things that should not have to be said, but given the nature of this discussion, here they are.

First, I will not establish my feminist or anti-VAW cred.

Second, I have nothing but disgust for the moronic, hateful, and well past its best-by date "prank" of yahoos' yelling FHRITP during telly reporters' live shots.

It is clearly symptomatic of the institutionalized and tacitly sanctioned sexual harassment and violence by the patriarchy that I've lived with for longer than the main actors here have been alive.

Third, endless props to CITY-TV reporter Shauna Hunt, who called out the morons in the recent event.

It's what happened afterwards that prompts this blogpost. I'm uncomfortable with several aspects of subsequent events.

Our pal Catelli_NQU tackles the issue of mob justice as currently manifested in social media. He lists several people who have been fired as a result of mass braying for blood. Some perhaps justly, some perhaps not, but…

This is the problem with mob justice. There are no rules or controls that can be relied on to apply an equal sense of justice. There are no appeals, no impartial trials, no weighing of the facts or the reliance on precedence. When it comes to our civil and criminal courts, we emphasise due process. For good reason. It is due process that mob justice lacks; and it is a problem and a threat.
Then he touches on my immediate reaction -- the role of the employer.

It is true that speech is not consequence free, but that does not mean all consequences are appropriate. When seeking justice, society must temper vengeance with reform. But the mob has downloaded that responsibility to those that employ us. Not the most trustworthy allies. If a company is threatened, they will act to protect their brand.

Hydro One, a huge public corporation with past and ongoing controversies and current privatization debate, identified and fired one of the morons in its employ.

The moron in question was not wearing any recognizable Hydro One gear. His very image did not "threaten" Hydro One. Hydro One was proactive in this case.

Lard knows our corporate overlords attempt to police enough of its employees' behaviour during work hours and is increasing its control on employees' off-work time -- for example, sacking a woman who deleted an app that allowed her bosses to track her 24 hours a day.

Now we have an example of an employer firing someone for idiotic behaviour totally unrelated to his employment.

Instant labour lawyers on social media insisted that the company was entirely within its rights.

I raised the spectre of employers in the US being given the right to police workers' (mainly women, natch) reproductive rights as another example of ridiculous overreach.

"Bullshit strawman! Totally inapt comparison!" they screeched at me.

Well, no. What the Hydro One moron and his buddies did was disgusting, offensive, and indefensible, sure. But to some (nutbar) employers, a woman having an abortion is equally disgusting, offensive, and indefensible and -- QED -- a justifiable fireable offence.

I find it frankly frightening that one's employer can unilaterally decide what's morally offensive in one's off-work behaviour and life.

Then there was the undisguised glee when it was revealed that the Hydro One moron was very well paid -- in fact, a member of the Sunshine List (earners of over $100K in public money).

That glee was simply revolting. The moron could just as well have been a minimum-wage earning fast-food worker. But that wouldn't have provided such guilt-free vengeance, would it?

Not only was the moron a fat-cat public employee, the instant labour lawyers pointed out, he was a union member. More guilt-free vengence. If it turns out -- as it well might -- that Hydro One's actions were disproportionate and abusive of the moron's rights, well, he's got a union to defend him.

Again I say: Hello? how about an un-unionized wage slave?

And, if the moron and/or his union takes Hydro One to court and wins a settlement, guess who pays? Yep. Us.

I'll leave it to others better versed in labour relations to suggest more appropriate disciplinary actions than outright firing.

In sum, I found the whole affair -- start to not-yet finish -- disgusting and horrifying.

There was abuse of power all round. From the morons' male entitlement and privilege, to the social media mob's naming, shaming, and subsequent crowing, to Hydro One's quick and easy PR win, the whole thing screamed BULLYING.

In my view, besides Shauna Hunt, the only player who behaved sensibly was Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Their swift action might be the most fitting, as well. In addition to promising better security for reporters at its venues, it banned the morons from their Boys' Nights Out.

The men also face a one year-ban from all games of the soccer club and other teams owned by Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, which include the NHL Maple Leafs and NBA Toronto Raptors.

Someone on Twitter mused that this would be an interesting case for a follow-up "Where Are They Now?" piece in a year or so.

I hope someone takes that on. I'd wager that everybody still looks bad.

ADDED: Trapped in a Whirlpool weighs in on Due Process.

ADDED LATER: Willy Loman.

ADDED MAY 15/15: Two by Sooey that need to be read: here and here.

Friday 8 May 2015

It's Not Easy Being a Fetus Freak in Saskatchewan

Despite being decisively smacked down by the Minister of Health last April, Saskatchewan Pro-Life continues to stomp their little feet demanding parental consent for abortion (click to embiggen letter).

Yesterday, they staged another of their lame underground gasline markers display.

Oddly, the MASSIVE event got no media coverage, but there was this on Twitter.

It was part of their March for Life, which also got ZERO coverage. But the poster is rather revealing, no?

They claim to be protecting vulnerable young women, but there it is in red and white -- it's really about forcing them to produce baybeez.

There was abortion news yesterday from Saskatchewan, just not the kind the fetus freaks were expecting.
The opposition NDP is questioning whether Saskatchewan’s rural health minister should be tabling an anti-abortion petition.

The Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association is lobbying the provincial government to change the abortion law to include parental consent. The group said it submitted numerous petitions to the legislature since last February, totaling more than 6,000 signatures.

Last week, Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit tabled a petition in the legislature presented from the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association.

Big surprise: Ottenbreit is anti-choice himself.

But it's more than a little strange that a cabinet minister is effectively petitioning himself over an issue the "real" (?) Minister of Health has kiboshed.

We also wonder if the gas-line marker gang got "special permission" for their display.

UPDATE (May 11/15): No need for abortion rule change.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Charter Challenge on Abortion Statistics

I'm kind of surprised there hasn't been a single mainstream media story on this.

So, here goes with my version of an interesting looming conflict over reproductive rights in Ontario.

First, the players. One is amateur statistician and serial shrieeeeker, Pat Maloney. Another is the Dominionist (reluctant) revealer of Conservative leadership candidates' abortion stances, Association for Reformed Political Action with its astroturf stalking horse, We Need a Law Like a Hole in the Head.

The issue: The exemption of abortion statistics from Ontario's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

Background. In January 2012, FIPPA was extended to hospitals with the following exemptions (scroll down to Sec. 65).

(5.7)  This Act does not apply to records relating to the provision of abortion services. 2010, c. 25, s. 24 (17).

Among its many other exemptions, there's also this:
(5.3)  This Act does not apply to the ecclesiastical records of a church or religious organization that is affiliated with an educational institution or a hospital. 2010, c. 25, s. 24 (17).

You know, just to forestall any accusation that the government is PROABORTION and ANTICHRISTIAN!!!

Here's a news story about the abortion exemption from August 2012.
The Ontario government says it recently restricted public access to records of abortion services because the data is “highly sensitive.” The change has prompted criticism from some anti-abortion groups, saying the public’s ability to request abortion data was important because statistics currently released by government entities are “shoddy.”

Asked to explain the decision, the provincial Ministry of Health said in a statement to the National Post: “Records relating to abortion services are highly sensitive and that is why a decision was made to exempt these records.”

B.C. has had a similar clause in its Freedom of Information act since 2001, restricting the disclosure of information relating to abortion services. The change came after several clinics and hospitals in the province were targeted by anti-abortion groups, as well as violence against North American abortion providers, and was intended to protect the providers, said Wendy Norman, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of British Columbia.
At the time, beyond the "highly sensitive" characterization, the purpose of exemption was never made explicit though concerns for the safety of providers and for the non-entirely neutral use of the information were assumed.

The fetus freaks naturally claimed censorship and scurrilous skulduggery.

Pat Maloney, in particular, seemed to be itching for the martyr mantle.
Anti-abortion blogger Patricia Maloney, however, says her latest request was denied.

“Before this change occurred, a citizen of Ontario could ask for and receive information on abortion statistics. I have done several of these Freedom of Information requests,” she wrote on her blog, Run with Life. “In fact it was my latest FOI, which was refused, that alerted me to the change.”
And now she has a partner, ARPA, in her martyr quest. Here is their factum asking that Section 65(5.7) of FIPPA be declared unconstitutional.

First, the spin claim voiced by the usual suspects that this is aaallll about facts and statistics is just too hilarious. Here's the Focus on the Family astroturf gang:
This is not about being pro-life. We need good statistics to see trends in our society and to know whether education programs are working.
Yeah, sure. Pat Maloney, who used aggregated abortion statistics to call for homicide investigations, is aaaalll about stats.

Also, we do not remember any anti-choice organizations among the 488 groups clamouring to keep the mandatory census for the sake of "good stats," though among those eleven in favour of scrapping it was "gendercide hero" Mark Warawa.

And now there's another wrinkle. The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) is backing the call for the release of information.

“The exclusion effectively prohibits expression on the excluded records, and thereby violates the Charter right to free expression of the requesters of the information,” said the OCLA position paper. “The OCLA seeks to raise the concern that there is palpable institutional bias against pro-life advocates in Ontario and that this is harmful to society and substantively unjust towards members of the community.”
Bias against "pro-life advocates" seems an odd tack to take, though. (Not to mention the very odd use of the phrase "pro-life" by what one would like to think of as unbiased intervenors.

It seems to us that there is a simple solution. There are grounds for refusal to disclose information under Section 10(1)(b) of FIPPA.

10. (1)   Subject to subsection 69 (2), every person has a right of access to a record or a part of a record in the custody or under the control of an institution unless, (b) the head is of the opinion on reasonable grounds that the request for access is frivolous or vexatious.
Judging from the uses to which fetus freaks have put this kind of information previously, "frivolous" and "vexatious" would both apply.

Finally, if the antis had their way, abortion would be criminalized or at least defunded and then what kind of stats would be available?


Except for skyrocketing death and disability stats from self- or amateur-administered abortion.

As a fan of facts and evidence, DJ! generally supports the release of information, provided the safety of patients and providers is guaranteed.

Like the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), we're not convinced that can achieved by this means.
ARCC supports the release of general statistics on abortion, because that's needed for research purposes and health planning to improve services etc., while posing no risk of identifying individual providers or facilities. The amendment apparently does not prevent that.

BONUS: Most recent Canadian abortion stats (Feb. 2015) from ARCC.

h/t to Joyce Arthur for some help in clarifying my thoughts and for law links