Do Not Let the Bastards Grind You Down

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
“Do Not Let the Bastards Grind You Down” -Chapter 9, The Handmaid’s Tale

Motion 312, or M-312 is a private member’s bill proposed by Conservative backbencher Stephen Woodworth asking for the appointment of a twelve member special committee to review Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code for the purpose of examining existing medical evidence to demonstrate whether or not a child is a human being before ‘complete birth,’ the legal impact and consequences on the human rights of a ‘child’ before the moment of ‘complete birth’ and what options are available to amend or replace Subsection 223(1), which has thus far serviced our Criminal Law more than adequately for several hundred years.

Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code was written as part of British Common Law and states that:

223. (1) A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not
(a) it has breathed;
(b) it has an independent circulation; or
(c) the navel string is severed.
Marginal note: Killing child

(2) A person commits homicide when he causes injury to a child before or during its birth as a result of which the child dies after becoming a human being.

[Read more...]

“Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, loved you.”

Inspired by Merle Hoffman’s new book Intimate Wars, we’re sharing some of our own most memorable pro-choice/social justice personal actions this month. If you’d like to contribute, let us know!

The first time I discovered I was pregnant I was twenty-two years old, an art school drop-out on social assistance with no home in particular. I was couch-surfing, chain-smoking and imbibing illegal substances of all kinds. The father of my foetus was a man I had known for about two months. I was crazy in love with him even though my friends disliked him and seemed concerned for my well-being. I thought he was just intensely passionate. Turns out he was intensely abusive.

When I got the news from my doctor’s office that I was not just pregnant but four weeks pregnant, I stubbed out my last cigarette and ran excitedly to tell my boyfriend the news. I had been pro-choice for years and had never, ever wanted to have kids. I had no job, no money, no permanent residence, and had just been knocked up by a virtual stranger. Logically it seemed like a no-brainer that I would have an abortion; it’s not practical to be penniless and pregnant, but on the contrary, I was ecstatic, something I never would have thought I’d feel at the prospect of becoming a “welfare mom.” No one I knew was as thrilled as I was that I was pregnant given my circumstances but I knew that becoming a mother meant becoming an adult. It meant that I had to stop messing around, start taking care of myself, and grow the fuck up. No more Gen-X slacking, no more drugs, no more all night partying. Becoming a parent gave me a focus and drive to better myself, to make myself worthy of the person growing inside me.

The second time I discovered I was pregnant I was in my mid-thirties. I had left my son’s father just before my son turned four and had been more or less on my own ever since; occasionally being involved with incredibly supportive partners. I was about five years into a fantatic career in publishing that I had worked my ass off to establish, having put myself through night school while parenting full time. I was making a decent salary, my son was happy and healthy, we lived in a great child-friendly neighborhood. I was no longer a houseless slack-ass jerk, I was a capable, confident, career-minded sole-support parent and damn proud of it.

After a few months of casually dating an old art-school friend, I realized with shock that I was pregnant. Shock because I knew the exact moment that I had become impregnanted: less than twenty-four hours before vomiting as a side effect from the morning after pill. I had rushed to the pharmacy and dutifully read the instructions and took the pills as prescribed. I wanted to do the responsible thing; concentrate on my career, continue to parent my son, and keep enjoying my hard-won life.   [Read more...]

1 in 4 College Students Has Cooties

Last week an eye-catching infographic was posted at Online Colleges, a resource for people looking for information on web-based education and related topics. The graphic alarmingly states that 1 in 4 college students have a sexually transmitted disease, citing improper or lack of male condom use and the consumption of alcohol as major contributing factors. The graphic, featuring an illustration of a young Caucasian male wearing a fetching pair of boxer shorts, was immediately picked up by a number of blogs and websites for college students. It seems the idea that getting sick from having sex is new and surprising to young people, and that’s as disturbing as the 1 in 4 statistic.

The infographic was created in-house using data collected from a number of third-party sources: getstdtested.com, a business that provides at-home STD testing for outrageous fees, stdandhivtesting.com, another service fee-based testing service, collegehealthadvisor.com, a clearinghouse of articles related to generalized health on campus, nursingschools.net, a guide for online nursing schools, ashastd.org, a page from the American Social Health Association, who advocate the same STD prevention methods as the CDC (see below), stdservices.org.net, a defunct address for a page now called yeah.com, that bastion of completely vetted double-blind tested scientific information: wikipedia, and cdc.gov, the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When asked why the team chose to exclude women who have sex with women as a demographic, Muhammad Saleen, one of the creators of the poster said: “It was not our intention to exclude anyone from our infographic, all the data presented on there is from third-party sources and data sets and any gaps in the information are because of the datasets used.” [Read more...]

Dr. Stuart Bramhall Battles for Tomorrow

The Battle for Tomorrow: A Fable, by Dr. Stuart Bramhall, is a self-published book about sixteen-year-old Ange, a politically conscious girl who struggles to seek independence and identity. Ange encounters both hindrances and help in her journey toward adulthood. An ageist, misogynistic culture hinders her goal of emancipation; unexpected help comes in the form of older women who empathize with and encourage their young friend to explore her own ethics.

Ange encounters many life-changing events in her search for selfhood: date rape, abortion, dysfunctional family relationships, moving to a different city, making new friends and exploring many ideologies through different activist groups. Determined to join the activist movement, Ange also encounters various facets of the judicial system.

Dr. Bramhall spoke with Feminists for Choice about her book.

Why did you decide to self-publish your work? [Read more...]

Unwinding the Abortion Debate in Young Adult Fiction

Currently in production is a cinematic adaptation of Neal Shusterman’s award-winning Young Adult novel Unwind. You won’t find any vampires, talking lions, or wizards here. Unwind is the story of three teenagers attempting to escape their fate: being sentenced to death by having all of their organs harvested.

Published in 2007, Unwind is a chilling look at the aftermath of the second civil war between pro- and anti-choice armies. Taking the current political climate to its furthest logical conclusion, Shusterman has created a near-future in which a truce between both sides was brokered by the government by the introduction of the Bill of Life. Coinciding with the perfection of a technique called neurografting, by which 99.8% of a donor’s body could be used in transplant, the Bill of Life proposed that abortion be made illegal, but a pregnancy could be terminated retroactively when a child reached the age of thirteen. This introduced the Unwind Accord, in which the retroactive terminations would see the children ‘unwound,’ their bodies not put to death but rather into a ‘divided state’ with all of their organs harvested for donation. [Read more...]

Remembering Dr. Robert Kinch

Editors’ Note: This is the first post in our series “A Season of Gratitude.” We’re all grateful for the the work of heroes like Dr. Kinch. To read more articles in this series, click here.

The name Dr. Henry Morgentaler is synonymous with pro-choice in Canada, but Dr. Robert Kinch was also instrumental in securing women’s rights as his colleague. Born in Iraq in 1920, Dr. Kinch immigrated to Canada with his family in 1949 after seeing a billboard advertising “Ontario Wants You.”

Dr. Kinch launched his career as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Toronto. In 1968 he moved to Montreal as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McGill University, eventually becoming chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Royal Victoria and Montreal General hospitals. He was appointed chairman of the Department of Obstetrics of Gynecology at McGill in 1979.

Beloved by his patients, Dr. Kinch delivered thousands of babies while determinedly championing maternal health and the advancement of sexual education.  [Read more...]

Shanawdithit, the Last Beothuk

Excerpt from the obituary of Shanawdithit from the London Times, September 14th, 1829:

DIED – At St. John’s Newfoundland on the 6th of June last in the 29th year of her age, Shanawdithit, supposed to be the last of the Red Indians or Beothicks. This interesting female lived six years a captive amongst the English, and when taken notice of latterly exhibited extraordinary mental talents. She was niece to Mary March’s husband, a chief of the tribe, who was accidentally killed in 1819 at the Red Indian Lake in the interior while endeavouring to rescue his wife from the party of English who took her, the view being to open a friendly intercourse with the tribe.

In Badger Bay, Newfoundland, in the spring of 1823, fur trappers captured three native women: a mother, Doodebewshet, and her two daughters, Shanawdithit, and Easter Eve, whose Beothuk name remains unknown. The furriers brought the women to Exploits Island, where Doodebewshet and Easter Eve died of tuberculosis. After the deaths of these women, the total Beothuk population was reduced to 11.

The Beothuk were a semi-nomadic people of Algonkian origin descended from the prehistoric Little Passage people. It is thought that they inhabited Newfoundland for thousands of years before their first contact with Europeans in 1497. Using the powder of red hematite abundant on the island to paint their canoes, artefacts and bodies led the Europeans to give them the name ‘Red Indians,’ a moniker that stuck to all First Nations people. Exactly what led the Beothuk to extinction depends upon the account. Disease, malnutrition, being forced away from their own territory and being abducted and sent to Europe as slaves or put on exhibit are certainly factors, as well as deliberately being hunted and slaughtered by settlers. Revisionist historical accounts will state that the Beothuk died out because of their own aggressive, insular customs, and their conflictual relationship with other aboriginal people, most notably the Micmac people. Some historians suggest that had the Beothuk acquiesced to the settlers and traded with them, at least for firearms, they could have defended themselves from the Europeans that hunted them. There are other accounts that state that French soldiers were sent to Newfoundland solely for the purpose of fighting and slaughtering all Beothuk. It was only after the capture of Shanawdithit that it was realized that the people were almost entirely killed off, and the Beothuk Institution was hastily founded to try to protect the island’s original inhabitants.
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She Real Cool: Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950 for Annie Allen, a book of poems about a black girl coming of age in Chicago. Born June 7, 1917, to strict but encouraging parents, Brooks published her first poem “Eventide” at the age of thirteen in American Childhood. By the time she was sixteen, she had published seventy-five poems, most of them in the Chicago Defender, a newspaper with a primarily black readership.

Brooks was influenced by Harlem Renaissance poets Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson, who encouraged her to read as much modern poetry as possible, particularly the work of Ezra Pound and e.e. cummings. The economy of language employed by Pound and cummings is evident in Brooks’ plainspoken minimalist work. Brooks described her own poetry as “folksy narrative,” a deceptive description for a poet who could with the simplest language both enlighten and devastate. Although she did employ free verse as a technique she could just as expertly execute a sonnet, ballad or other traditional poetic form.

In 1945 she won a Guggenheim Fellowship for her collection A Street In Bronzeville. Following her Pulitzer win, in 1962 she was invited by John F. Kennedy to read at the Library of Congress after which she began teaching at a series of colleges and universities. In 1967, she participated in the Second Black Writer’s Conference at Fisk University, an event that would permanently alter her perception, politic and poetry. It was this pivotal experience that saw Brooks develop a more direct voice of protest in her work. Following the Fisk University conference, Brooks began work on In The Mecca, a book length poem concerning a mother’s search for her lost daughter in a housing project in Chicago. In The Mecca was nominated for a National Book Award. [Read more...]

The Crime of Abortion in Canada

I live in a country where abortion is not a crime but floats in legal limbo. Canada has no law regarding abortion; regulations and access vary from province to province and are prey to the whims of whomever is holding the purse strings. Despite a federal ruling that all provinces must fully fund abortions, Nova Scotia provides limited funding for abortion while New Brunswick provides zip, zero, zilch, thereby breaking the law and thumbing their noses at the Canada Health Act. Nationally we have 151 abortion facilities as opposed to the 197 ‘crisis pregnancy centres’ festering across the Great White North. In Quebec there are 61 abortion facilities, in Prince Edward Island there are none.

As Pedgehog noted in her moving post about Dr. Henry Morgantaler, it was his lengthy legal battle, R. v. Morgantaler that resulted in the Supreme Court of Canada striking down the existing abortion law on January 28, 1988. The existing law was found to violate section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it infringed upon a woman’s right to life, liberty and security of person. Chief Justice Brian Dickson wrote:

“Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a fetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman’s body and thus a violation of her security of the person.”

Of course, that wasn’t the end of the matter. There have been over 35 anti-choice private member bills introduced in Parliament since 1987. Some of the more notable cases are Tremblay v. Daigle and Borowski v. Canada, both introduced in 1989. [Read more...]

Free Abstinence App from Sexy Candies Shoes

Candies Shoes, made famous by their ads showing celebs like Jenny McCarthy sitting on a toilet with her panties halfway down her legs and Hayden Panettiere ‘assuming the position,’ has created an app called Candies Cry Baby that promises an “insta-dose of parenthood!” The app features four short videos of infants screaming their heads off. Once you click on an image of a baby the loop begins and there doesn’t seem to be any way to shut it off. A pretty pink logo then pops up telling you to ‘Pause Before You Play.’

The Candies Foundation, launched in 2001 by head of Candies Neil Cole, is a non-profit organization focused on preventing teen pregnancy. They claim their goal is to influence youth culture by creating ads that feature celebrities youth can relate to like Hayden Panettiere, Beyoncé, Jenny McCarthy, Ashley Tisdale, Hilary Duff, Ashlee Simpson and others. The site claims that teen girls exposed to the foundations and its messages are more likely to view teen pregnancy as negative and to think teens should wait longer to have sex. No studies or statistics are cited.

The Candies Foundation most recent plug for their ‘Pause Before You Play’ campaign features Bristol Palin and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino in a ‘spontaneous’ conversation backstage at Dancing With The Stars about abstinence and safe sex. According to Cole, “In just three days, the video was viewed nearly 1,000,000 times on YouTube.” Quite possibly for its comedic value, but maybe some contraception education snuck in there as well.  [Read more...]