Dec 19 2013
Dec 19 2013
This post isn’t about abortion, but Andrea said we could post about anything so here goes.
As most of you know, the Supreme Court of Canada is releasing its decision in the Bedford prostitution case tomorrow. Here’s what you need to know for what follows:
The Bedford case is a challenge to three of the key laws that inhibit prostitution in Canada, which would otherwise be completely legal. One of the laws whose fate we await is the Criminal Code provision that makes it a criminal offence to live on the avails of prostitution, or the pimping law.
This provision was struck down at the Ontario Superior Court, then rewritten at the Ontario Court of Appeal so that it would “only apply in circumstances of exploitation.” It has been argued before the Supreme Court and in the media by pro-prostitution groups that this provision prevents women in prostitution from hiring bodyguards, drivers, or even bookkeepers, thereby making their ‘work’ less safe. It’s a charming chapter in a fairy tale version of prostitution, in which the men involved in the prostitution industry are benevolent fellows whose interests lie in assisting and protecting prostituted women. But the thing about fairy tales is when you look a little deeper you often find something darker and more ominous.
I’ve never believed that fairy tale. And what my colleague Julia Beazley at the EFC heard about few weeks ago only further confirms that this fairy tale is a myth.
A mass text message was sent to women engaged in prostitution in the GTA warning them that if they were currently working independently and they didn’t put themselves under the thumb of a pimp by December 15, there would be serious consequences. The text opens with the words “Attention All Bad B*****s/Working Girls/Escorts/Strippers… Exile Season Starts December 15!”
Julia doesn’t post the text message in its entirety because the language is just too horrifying, but here is her summary:
The exile season warning is directed at all women known to be prostituting in the Greater Toronto Area, and possibly even more widespread, whether on the streets, in massage parlours, escort services or in strip clubs. Intended to intimidate and threaten, it is a less than subtle directive that failure to ‘choose’ a pimp to work with on a ‘100% basis’ would result in those women no longer being permitted to work, period. The text makes it clear that enforcers – whose nicknames aren’t fit for print – are ready and willing to deal with non-compliers. The message is unambiguous: working independently, anywhere, will not be tolerated; and those who don’t play by the rules will face consequences.
I was sickened by what I read. I’m told this type of communication is just part of ‘the game,’ and must be taken seriously. These men are not drivers or bodyguards. They are dangerous individuals, exercising a perverse sense of power and entitlement, and bent on maintaining control.
There has been no news coverage of this mass text message, and this story should be getting coverage, especially in light of tomorrow’s decision.
Is legalizing prostitution really pro-woman? Is this best we can offer our country? According to Julia’s research, 90% of women would leave prostitution if they could. That says something.
For more information on the case, and to learn about alternatives to our existing prostitution-related legislation, read Julia’s post.
Dec 19 2013
Pope Francis is Time’s man of the year. Like Father Raymond de Souza’s take on this:
The 20th century posed three enormous challenges, not only to the Church, but to all of Western civilization. The first was from “above,” the totalitarian state seeking to crush all social institutions, including marriage, family and the church. The second was from “below,” the sexual revolution and its attendant social changes, which undermined marriage, family and the church. The third was in the entire intellectual environment, in which the possibility of knowing the truth at all, especially moral truth, was radically questioned.
It is possible to understand John Paul II and Benedict XVI as two parts of an epic, world-changing, 35-year pontificate, which went into battle on all three fronts. Call it “police work” or manning the barricades or clambering aboard the ark in rough waters — it was necessary. If Francis now is able to return to what the Church usually does in times of relative tranquility, it is because of what went before. Does the Church appear to be more attractive under Francis? Time is right about that, for she is attempting to be more of who she properly is.
Many pro-lifers are concerned that Pope Francis was telling them their work was not important. But I did not hear this in his message, personally. And more to the point, I am unwilling to trust a radically anti-Catholic media’s interpretation of the Pope.
I do think the pro-life message is itself an act of charity, and that the “telling the truth” element of it is heard best when accompanied by old-fashioned charity. (As a side tangent note, which I’ve made so often before, pro-lifers are very often denied the opportunity to be hands-on charitable, so quick does our cultural outlook nurture a trip to the abortion clinic. Because this is the case, countless pro-lifers spend their time serving those who are born. It is the mark of someone who knows nothing at all about pro-lifers who says otherwise.)
Dec 19 2013
McKenzie’s daughter Marit, a freshman at the University of Calgary, died after suffering four heart attacks, a pulmonary embolism, and bleeding in the brain in late January after less than a year of taking Diane-35, manufactured by Bayer.
Diane-35 is a controversial hormone pill intended to treat acne and excessive hairiness in women but is often prescribed by doctors as an off-label contraceptive.
I remember Diane 35 from my uni days. I didn’t distinguish between it treating acne and being a contraceptive and I don’t think anyone else did either.
Ah, The Pill. I will never forget this dude “a friend” dated in first year university. He took her aside, sitting on the front steps of her dorm, just across from Toronto’s ROM and in loving care and concern asked her if she didn’t want to get on The Pill because…wait for it… it would help her cycle. Ah yes. It is *so good* (sarcasm alert) to be cared for in that way. Imagine. No greater love hath man than this, than to ask his girlfriend to get on the Pill, pronto.
My sincere condolences go out to the family who lost their daughter on this drug and I wish them every success in their lawsuit.
Dec 18 2013
Like this book: The Anonymous Us Project: A Story-Collective on 3rd Party Reproduction, edited by Alana Newman.
I discovered the Anonymous Us Project website a few years ago. It’s a sobering piece of internet real estate to visit. Children born of third party reproduction (sperm and egg donation and surrogacy) share their own stories about what it means to be conceived in that way.
Many testimonies reveal heart-break, loss, confusion and anger. Here are a few snippets:
“Who are you to deny me half of my family tree—branches rich and strong with stories I may never be told? Who are you to give away my heritage, knowing it will be replaced with something false?”
“I am a human being, yet I was conceived with a technique that had its origins in animal husbandry. Worst of all, farmers kept better records of their cattle’s genealogy than assisted reproductive clinics … how could the doctors, sworn to ‘first do no harm’ create a system where I now face the pain and loss of my own identity and heritage.”
“As a donor-conceived person, I have a sense of being part of an underclass … Having a child is a privilege not a right.”
This article includes a review of Alana Newman’s book and some additional commentary on the consequences of third-party reproduction:
We must acknowledge the painful truth that, as infertile couples seek to remedy their suffering through third-party reproduction, they are unwittingly inflicting pain on their future children. Eventually, those children must wrestle with the circumstances surrounding their conception. In aiming to satisfy their very natural desire for offspring, infertile couples go to great lengths to create children who are destined to experience complex crises of identity and purpose.
Check out the Project website and read that article (and buy me a copy of the book). It’s a lot of food for thought. And this issue and these children deserve our consideration.
Dec 18 2013
More often than you might think, I hear about a woman who, through my direct group of friends/acquaintances is considering abortion. Has it scheduled. Sometimes I hear the reasons. Sometimes I don’t. I always offer the help I believe is most appropriate. In matters of life or death, this is not a time to be “Canadian.” I don’t aim to be obnoxious, either. I just aim to speak my mind, hopefully, with compassion.
This time all I could do was offer a simple encouragement to my friend who is friends with the woman scheduled for an abortion. I strongly encouraged her to speak her mind with this woman; to raise some hopeful options. (This is a woman who is saying she will get an abortion, but also desperately wanted a child.)
These moments always highlight a couple of things for me:
1. That in a very concrete way there is a baby right now who may not be by the end of the week
2. That we have created spaces and we fund them and therefore sanction them where women can arrive pregnant and leave not pregnant but the fact remains that they are, before and after, mothers
3. That behind the masses and statistics of abortion there are always individual people
4. That my first concern is always for the born mother, and secondarily for the unborn child. That was my response last night when I heard of this case and it came naturally to me, not as some PR spin as pro-choicers want you to believe. Aborting her very much wanted child does damage to women–damage no one but the most ideological contest
5. That turning away or saying “it’s her choice” is just about the most terrible response anyone could possibly have. Why do we think of this as respectful?
There are few things so tragic as loss of life, however that happens. But what is worse is when we sanction the loss of life and then tell everyone to shut up about their grief. In the current circumstance, I don’t know the woman. Therefore, I can’t reach out to her. I’m told I shouldn’t care. Call me crazy, and many do, but when someone is signing for the death of their own child, I care about it and it weighs on me. I wish I could do more. That’s all.
Dec 17 2013
Someone sent me this. It’s old, so I’m not sure why/how the blogosphere called this up just now.
Have a watch. It’s Hillary Clinton responding to a pro-lifers question about whether “reproductive rights” include abortion abroad.
Here’s what I see in her reply:
She starts with personal anecdotes. I would do that too. My stories would be different, but they are no less gut wrenching. I’ll spare you the details here, but suffice to say, I know post-abortive women who have cried on the floor in the fetal position because they feel the loss of their child so acutely. It’s not exactly the picture of empowerment.
She moves into some very contested territory. The facts: Good medical care reduces maternal mortality, regardless of whether abortion is legal or not. But what she says is that good medical care and access to abortion decrease abortion rates. Which is false in her country and ours too. Abortion rates went up upon legalizing. They’ve remained incredibly high ever since. We might see some fiddling at the edges. By that, I mean a slight decline or a slight rise. At this point we don’t know here in Canada because we stopped keeping accurate abortion statistics. But the legal environment both here and in the United States has kept abortion anything but rare.
That’s the falsehood of her assertion (a more reasonable position than many) that abortion be safe, legal and rare. It is not safe in her country: Women die in abortions. It is legal. It is not at all rare.
So. Spare me the pain of saying that this is some bold statement in favour of women’s rights.
As a final note, I will thank Hillary Clinton for being reasonable, since she at very least pretends to want abortion to be rare, which is not what a lot of her sisters in the movement would say. I’ll never forget a woman at a pro-choice conference at University of Toronto law school asking why on earth a woman couldn’t ask for a third trimester abortion for social reasons. The people on the podium appeared uncomfortable… but hey–those are their supporters. Some of their people absorbed the message of “my body, my choice” and are willing to apply it to any point of pregnancy for any reason. It’s consistent, and pro-choicers must be held accountable for that.
Dec 13 2013
When attachment comes up, generally people have some mixed ideas around what that means, and how it ought to be applied. Parents–you decide whether you want to co-sleep with your kids! I won’t offer advice. (In case you are wondering, I wouldn’t, but really, who cares? I don’t have kids.)
In a basic way, every human being needs to be attached to others, and this is something we miss in bigger picture discussions of the topic. My workplace did an interview with Vancouver-based developmental psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld, in which he explains the concept, and why it matters, why it is that kids are harder to parent these days in the absence of an attachment-friendly culture. All the YouTube clips can be found at the link above. Here’s one: