Thursday 19 November 2015

Abortion: Once and For All

My entire blogging career -- if you can call something that doesn't pay a "career" -- has been conducted during the Dark Ages.

It started back at Birth Pangs, now sadly gone but snippets have been saved at the WayBack Machine (hours of fun!). Birth Pangs was focussed on reproductive rights just about exclusively.

We created DJ! in 2009. Our birthday was yesterday.

With DJ! we spread our focus, but I -- and deBeauxOs to a lesser extent -- stayed on the repro rights beat.

I've been thinking about what I want to do now that the Dark Ages are over and we don't have to remain constantly on guard for sneaky fuckery from Conservative misogynist nutbars.

I've decided to go on the offensive.

According to the fetus freaks, we now have the most "pro-abortion" PM EVAH! Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) reckons the anti-choice brigade in the House of Commons has been halved, from 38% to 18% and ALL of them are in minority opposition.

The Liberals ran on some pretty big promises to women, specifically on abortion access.

I propose we not only hold the government to those promises but push for more.

Here is ARCC's list of demands.
• Enforce Canada Health Act against NB and PEI – i.e., arbitrate to resolve access/funding issues, and if the provinces still don’t comply, withhold federal transfer payments.
• To reduce abortion, fully fund most contraception through Medicare (the Pill, IUDs, Depo, emergency contraception, etc.).
• Increase number of hospitals that provide abortions outside major cities.
• Increase medical school training in abortion; provide continuing education in abortion techniques to existing doctors.
• Incentivize and support doctors to provide abortions in smaller communities.
• Prohibit so-called “conscientious objection” in reproductive healthcare, or at least require referrals and discipline doctors who disobey.
• Screen out anti-choice medical students before they enter the Family Planning program or Obstetrics/Gynecology specialty (inability to fulfill job requirements should make them ineligible).

To which I would add:
• Require comprehensive sex ed, including consent and gay and trans rights, in every publicly funded school.
• Regulate and license so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centres to ensure they are telling the truth and treating "clients" respectfully and responsibly. Shut them down if they don't.
• Create a media climate in which any reporter who goes to a fetus freak for a "balancing" comment on a proposal that should be judged on its own merits gets laughed out of the room.
• Crowdfund as necessary to bring suit against organizations and pundits that tell outrageous lies about sexual health and reproductive law.

Of course there are other important things on the feminist agenda that we will continue to work on, like violence against women, child care, equal pay, decriminalizing sex work, and so on.

But I think we have a historic opportunity to get this one done. Once and for all.

Canada is a pro-choice country. We have the chance to move our institutions, media, and culture to the point of no return. Where it will become simply unthinkable for anyone to question a woman's right to make her own decisions on her own life.

We can discredit, delegitimate, disrupt, and demoralize the anti-choicers so that only the most insane of them think it's worth their time to continue.

We can do this. And serve as a beacon of compassion and sanity to the world.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Olympic Cheating? Not us, mate.

Now that the dust has settled, we get a glimpse (courtesy of CP's Paola Loriggio) of what was going on in Mayor Dad's office over the limp musings on an Olympic bid after the Pan-Am track-meet.
Toronto officials saw public resistance as the main threat to a possible Olympic bid and worried holding a referendum on the issue would “allow critics to overstate and inflate opposition” to hosting the 2024 Games, documents reveal.

Emails and briefing materials written by Toronto Mayor John Tory’s staff, obtained by The Canadian Press through access-to-information laws, suggest a lack of public and government support were seen as the “greatest risks” to a Toronto pitch.
No opposition groups are mentioned in that story but I am proud to have been part of NoTO2024 and it's gratifying to think we may have had a small effect on Tory's long-drawn-out but finally sane answer.

I was prepared to be quietly pleased until someone posted a link to GamesBids's spin on the story.

The author and website owner, Robert Livingstone (more about that in a minute), did mention us by name.
As the bid decision loomed, vocal opposition with social-media savvy emerged including the loosely organized NoTO2024 group that mimicked the strategies of No Boston Olympics.  The latter successfully cast enough doubt about a Boston 2024 Olympic bid during the previous months that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) eventually parted ways with the Massachusetts group and moved forward with Los Angeles instead.

But the Toronto opposition often relied on erroneous and unsupported outdated “facts”, and in some cases inflammatory Website comments that bordered on libel, to try to get their opinions heard.

Ooooh. "Bordered on libel"?????

He quotes from the NoTO2024 website:
“Myth 7: The IOC is reformed
Nope – it’s still the same old cabal of unelected and often corrupt failed politicians, super-wealthy princes and the odd despot. They still demand five-star service, right from fruit in their hotel suites to private lanes on the highway. Millions of our tax dollars are poised to go directly (or rather, extremely indirectly) into their pockets.”
I personally sourced and documented every -- yes, somewhat snarkily presented -- fact in that quote.

Where, exactly, is the libel-bordering there, Mr. Livingstone?

I would have let that go too. Some kind of sour grapes or something at work there, poor guy, but here's the last paragraph.

It seems the citizens of Toronto and Canada were cheated out of a fair Olympics debate. It’s up to the IOC to continue to work on improving its messaging and the Olympic brand so that more informed discussions can happen in the future.

"Cheated out of a fair Olympics debate."

When the standard line from Olympics boosters and officials to ordinary residents is "don't worry your purty little heads about details," NoTO2024 was the ONLY citizen group trying to put some real facts in front of Torontonians and Canadians.

But hey, it's not like GamesBids had anything to gain from a Toronto bid (the author is based in Toronto, by the way). Have a look at its About page.
Our membership includes the world media, members of bid city committees around the world, IOC officials and key stakeholders in the process as well as Olympic fans, businesses and athletes. You can join too!

Please explore and send us a note to tell us what you want to see.
Ya gotta love it. The Olympic Spirit consists of telling people what they want to see/know.

And "cheating" consists of telling some uncomfortable truths.

And let's not forget that spot of bother Canadian Olympic Committee macho-honcho, Marcel Aubut, found himself in shortly afterwards.

Previous DAMMIT JANET! coverage of NoTO2024.