Thursday, 24 July 2014

[Random number] things to know about _Words And Pictures_

So on $2.50 Tuesday at a local second-run movie theatre, since I was in the vicinity to dispatch some banking business, I decided to go watch something.

_Words And Pictures_ seemed moderately interesting: Australian director Fred Schepisi; Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen in lead roles.

Unfortunately it is set in the USA, yet shot in British Columbia passing for New England.  Thus it gets the Vegas treatment rather than a quieter, gentler interpretation of an intriguing narrative.

Consequently Owen reprises the Hemingway bombast he perfected in an earlier role.  He plays Jack Marcus: a charming, erudite, passionate, verbose and inspiring high school teacher who is also a deceitful, enraged alcoholic.

Binoche is allowed to develop multiple dimensions of her character Dina Delsanto; she is also a painter (in real life!) and it is her work that she produces that is featured in the movie.  It provides the script with some modicum of authenticity.

The students in this expensive, carefully groomed and pruned prep school are of "all sorts" though judiciously selected for their good looks; a vast palette of ethnic ancestries, all Benetton photo op-ready. 

Yet it's ironic how it happens that the de-rigueur bully character - also a creepy nascent sexual sadist - turns out to be NOT the typical privileged WASP but a cocky young man who may be the only student that might be considered "semitic" (though not overtly identified as such) at the snooty private school. 

He attempts to evade responsibility for his sexual harassment and stalking actions by framing a Black classmate for this particular vicious and vile prank.  The denials and protests that he utters, claiming he's done nothing wrong sound EXACTLY like the excuses and justifications proffered by Cody Boast.



Boast is the frat boy of pallour on the right.  He has received four convictions to date for his criminal actions.  He is a serial predator; unless all the women who have been the target of his abuse and rage speak up, nobody knows the exact number of victims upon whom he has inflicted his vindictiveness and spleen.

The psychiatrist claims that if Boast continues with his treatment it would be unlikely that he will re-offend.

I disagree. He supplied an obligatory proof of *remorse* with regard to the harm he inflicted up one ex-girlfriend and her family, at the same time he had started a campaign of intimidation and cyber-bullying against another prey.  He's learned much from these experiences; when his violent behaviour escalates, he will likely select new targets who won't have as much resources to push back as previous trophies did, and he will be much more efficient in disposing of evidence to avoid being caught.

But I digress.  Here's my list (I can hear my co-blogger FH groaning) of things that ruined _Words and Pictures_ for me.

  • Over-the-top dialogue. Less is more. The writer could learn a thing or two by watching films scripted by Noel Coward.
  • Mediocre or atrocious lighting and cinematography. Scenes shot on some sets are fine, but otherwise, ugh. There's one scene in bright sunlight, outside Dina's studio that looks so amateurish for an Australian director of photography that makes me suspect he delegated it to a gaffer.
  • Owen's hammy performance should have been reined in; he's capable of nuanced and powerful characterization. _Croupier_ and many more.
  • Actors cast in secondary character roles are excellent but sadly they are given crummy, cliché lines to spout. 
  • Inconsistencies and implausible details that make you go ... what?  For example: a chi-chi private school that can afford to hire an art instructor whose paintings command stellar prices has only a cramped, ill-equipped studio for honours students?  The spiteful pornographic caricatures produced by the criminally-stalkerish student are briefly flashed upon the screen and appear to be devoid of genitalia.  

There's more, but those are the highlights of points that undermined the movie's credibility and otherwise high-end qualities.

On balance, it's a better-than-average movie, if one is not vulnerable to the situations depicted. I found that parts of it were painful to watch; it could be extremely triggering for women who have experienced intimate relationships with alcoholics and/or men afflicted with entitlement delusions: expecting and wanting their emotional needs and sexual demands to be met.

There's been a flurry of excellent resources that have been suggested, with regard to this phenomenon: "A deeply disturbing portrait of male entitlement", "Nice guys, the friend zone and sexual entitlement" and "Men aren't entitled to women's time or affection" are some good items to read on the topic.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Update on the Save the Clinic Campaign

All along, the fundraising campaign by Reproductive Justice New Brunswick was nothing more than a stop-gap, intended to ensure the continuing possibility of an abortion clinic that accepted self-referring patients.

Having hit the initial goal of $100,000 last week, yesterday they announced they're raising their sights in order to buy necessary equipment.
The words "Thank you" don't feel big enough to express the gratitude that we at Reproductive Justice New Brunswick are feeling right now. To surpass our original goal in the first 2 weeks of our campaign? There are no words! Thank you, thank you all, for your support.

We are still a long way from our final goals, however. Negotiations continue with the owner of the former Morgentaler Clinic to secure an agreement to manage the building. Now we are asking for your support and enthusiasm to move forward with Phase 2 of our goals. For a further $85,000 we can potentially buy all the equipment currently located at the clinic; equipment that is required to provide a full range of reproductive health services.  It’s a bargain we don’t want to miss but we need your help. 

RJNB will also continue to lobby the New Brunswick government to change Regulation 84/20 that requires a woman to have the procedure deemed "medically necessary" in writing by an OB-GYN and another doctor, in order to obtain a publicly funded abortion in one of 2 hospitals.

The government still refuses to even meet with us to discuss a change. Until the people of New Brunswick have the same right as other Canadians to the reproductive health care of their choice, where and when they want it, we will never have true equality in New Brunswick. RJNB, with your help, pledges to continue the fight until the people of the Maritimes have access to a full range of publicly funded reproductive health services.
That the Conservative government won't even meet with them is hardly a surprise, but given an upcoming provincial election that the Liberals seem poised to win, this is a little harder to stomach.

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s pro-choice stand is reverberating through New Brunswick, where abortion-rights activists are vowing to make the closing of the Fredericton Morgentaler clinic an election issue – and the provincial Liberal leader is offering little support.

Justin and Brian look pretty cozy here, don't they?



Maybe chicken-shit Gallant is scared of people like this.
Some New Brunswickers, such as Kelly Seale, want less access to abortions, not more.

"Soon as I walk by there, I feel a very strong feeling of the devil. Yeah," said Seale, who works at an anti-abortion centre next door to the clinic.
Well, OK then. The anti-Satan voting bloc must be MASSIVE in Brunswick.

Here's a good round-up on the state of abortion access in Canada by Press Progress. Graphic is from Canadians for Choice.



If you were thinking of donating but didn't get around to it, then thought "Great, they've hit their goal," please think again.

Something else you could do is simply tell someone about the situation in NB and PEI. From the comments at the fundraising site, on various media stories, and blogs like Trashy's World, it's clear that there are a shit-ton of Canadians who have no idea what Maritime women are up against.

Most Canadians consider abortion a non-issue, a done deal -- and are shocked to find out that that's a big fat lie for thousands of us.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Victorian C36, sex work and the CPC god-and-pony show

If last week's opportunistic display by the Harper government Con MPs at the special Justice Committee's hearings about C36 wasn't enough, today's rightwing fundamentalist religious histrionic zealotry given voice by CPC useful idiot Bob "Douchert" Dechert amply illustrates Poe's Law.

The collective CPC and its individual MPs' squalid, Christian Taliban-like beliefs about sexwork are deeply gynophobic, cruel and oppressive as well as redolent of 19th century England hypocrisy.  Not only is Bill C36 unlikely to survive a Supreme Court of Canada challenge, it expresses the worst of Harper Cons base support's most vile attitudes towards women as victims, and sex as inherently evil unless redeemed by holy marriage.

It brings to mind this sexist joke, an artefact of 1950s assumptions, that first-year law students may still hear from a creaky member of the Old White Boys' Club:
Having been propositioned by a well defined and uptown prostitute one evening, a successful single gentleman agreed to have consensual sex with the young lady for the sum of $500.00. After the evening ended the gentleman handed the young lady $250.00. The prostitute immediately demanded the balance and threatened to sue if she didn't get it. "That's a laugh!" the man stated, "I'd like to see you try." A few days later the man was surprised to receive a summons ordering him to appear in court as a defendant in a lawsuit. The man hurried to his lawyer's office and explained the details of the case. His lawyer said, "She can't possibly get a judgment against you on such grounds, but it will be interesting to see how she presents her case." After the usual preliminaries, the parties appeared in court ready for trial.

The prostitute's lawyer addressed the court first, "Your Honor, my client, this lady here, is the owner of a piece of property, a garden spot surrounded by a profuse growth of shrubbery, which property she agreed to rent to the defendant for a specific length of time for the sum of $500.00. The defendant obtained exclusive possession of the property, using it extensively for the purpose for which it was rented. However, upon evacuating the premises, he paid only one-half of the amount agreed upon. The rent was not excessive since it is restricted and exclusive property and we ask that judgment be granted for plaintiff and against defendant in the amount of $250.00.

The defendant's lawyer, thrown back by what he had just heard, pondered the opening remarks for a moment and stood to present his off-the-cuff version of the case, "Your Honor, my client agrees that the young lady has a fine piece of property, and that he rented such property for a period of time, and that he even derived a degree of pleasure from the transaction. However, my client found a well on the property upon which he placed his own stones, sunk a shaft, and erected a pump. All equipment belonging to my client and all labor being performed by him. We allege that these improvements to the property were sufficient to effect an offset of the unpaid portion of rent and further allege that the plaintiff was adequately compensated for the fair market rental value of such property. We, therefore, ask that judgment not be granted for plaintiff and that the defendant be awarded his attorney's fees and costs incurred in the defense of this frivolous action."

The prostitute's lawyer replied, "If it pleases the court your Honor, my client agrees that the defendant did find a well on the property, and that he made the improvements to the property as alleged. However, had the defendant not known the well existed, he would have never rented the property. Furthermore, upon evacuating the premises, the defendant removed the stones, pulled out the shaft, and took the pump with him. In doing so, he not only dragged his equipment through the well-manicured shrubbery, but left the well with a hole much larger than it was prior to his occupancy, making it easily accessible to small children, thereby creating a possible danger to the health and general welfare of the public. We, therefore, ask that judgment be granted as requested in the complaint.

Judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of $250.00!
Imagine it being told by the chortling, snorting, oinking CPC MP Robert Goguen, whilst MP Joy Smith supplies demure gasps in the background.

If you want to hear a *good* joke, read this brilliant parody of the slut-shaming "Rescue Rhetoric".

Beggars Can't Be Choosers

In poetry, the word 'thousand' has represented not only an actual mathematical number of distinct properties, but also a metaphor for infinity or without end; for example, 'never in a thousand years', 'one picture is worth a thousand words' and so on.

As I write this tonight, the fundraising effort to keep the Morgentaler clinic for women's health services in New Brunswick up and running has taken an optimistic turn.  With 17 days to go on the deadline for fundraising, the requested funds of $100,000CAN has sprouted to over 63% of the way.  It wasn't looking so hopeful last night when it was still below $19,000CAN, which at least, was higher than it looked last Friday.

$100,000 dollars.  An enormous, near infinite amount of money to most of us not living the life of the 1percenters.  When I was thinking about that, Friday night, I couldn't help but consider that progressive, fellow-feeling Canadians are in the position of literally begging for random donations to support legal medical services for cis-women and transgender men, because their provincial government had successfully fettered mandated services with administrative blockades that served no purpose beyond sectarian interpretations of morality.

Canadians in 2014. Begging. For. Funding of *legal* medical procedures. Potentially affecting 50percent+ of the national population. Begging. BEGGING IN THE STREETS for enough money to keep medical treatment safe.  BEGGING for the ability to help Canadians who practically have nowhere else to go, unless the State authorities deem them worthy of State mercy.

These State-imposed blockades deliberately and aggressively infantilize adult, taxpaying Canadians of sound mettle. Needful patients in the Canadian medical system must submit to the authoritarian, foot-dragging and subjective decisions of what is essentially a legally rejected 'in parens patriae' judgemental gauntlet of strangers that may or may not grant permission for access to safe, professional, *timely* and economically unfettered medical care.

That always works out well.

Canadians shouldn't have to beg on bended, humble knee to get necessary medical attention. The organizations opposing the ability of cis-women and transgender men to have timely and *dignified* access to pregnancy terminations and/or contraception are pleased to make a mockery of Canada's long standing Supreme Court human rights decision.

They're counting on lying, public shaming, and economic challenges as their weapons to force *other peoples'* unwanted pregnancies to term, no matter the human cost to the already living.  They're *happy* about such tactics.  They *want* begging.  They want social control in their hands, not the hands of individuals wanting lives of choice and personal respect.  They're well funded.

They shouldn't be the only ones so funded.

$100,000CAN.  Let's work for the New Brunswick clinic and its deadline but let's also look beyond its survival.  There are underserved urban and rural areas all across the country.  Maybe this is naive, or even repetitive, but let's run with that poetic number.  Why can't we take that $100,000 figure and break it down?

What about 1,000? 1,000 Canadians who believe access to legal, evidence-based abortion and contraception services are important.  1,000 pledges to provide $100.00CAN to a yearly project? We have 10 provinces and 3 territories. In their bounds, are there not 1,000 people willing to put up less than $9CAN per month equivalent?

1,000 pledges that could either seed money support for areas of Canada lacking in Abortion/contraceptive services or match extra funds raised.  1,000 pledges to say there aren't sluts or saints, only Canadians in need. 1,000 pledges that show political circles we're not going back to the way medical access was in this country before abortion and contraception services were legal.

Canadians shouldn't have to beg for their lives.

Not in a thousand years.

Monday, 14 July 2014

New Brunswick Activists Push Back, Canadians Respond Generously

I've been watching the fundraising efforts by Reproductive Justice New Brunswick. They are trying to raise $100,000 to secure the lease on the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic, which is closing this week.

At about 8:30 this morning, the total stood at $18,400 with just 17 days left in the campaign.

Sometime soon after that, a piece in the Globe and Mail titled "Abortion in New Brunswick: The vise tightens, and activists push back" appeared.

By 11 a.m., the total had zoomed to more than $32,000 and as of just now (6:30 p.m.) it stands at more than $51,000.

As comments at the fundraising site and on the Globe article indicate, people across the country are shocked by the New Brunswick government's cavalier attitude towards women's rights. Canadians find it appalling that not all of us have equal access to healthcare. Some of us were under the impression that we'd fought this battle and won.

Surprise!

Donations are not the answer of course. This is merely a stop-gap.

The goal is to force the NB government to repeal its idiotic Regulation 84-20 so that women of the province can have medicare-funded, self-referred abortions like other Canadians.

And no, we haven't forgotten Prince Edward Island, where the attitude towards women's healthcare is similarly antediluvian.

If you can, please consider a donation and spread the word among your friends and networks.

For those who prefer to use cheques, you can mail them to Reproductive Justice New Brunswick at PO Box 761, Stn. A, Fredericton NB E3B 5B4.

Here's a tweet from one of the organizers today.




UPDATE: The Star.

UPDATE (July 15/14, 5:45 p.m.): On Twitter, I've been razzing CBC all day about this story not being newsworthy enough to cover. As the numbers zoomed up today -- from $64K at 7 a.m. this morning to $75K just after noon to over $82K now -- I kept at them. Finally, the magic number was reached. At $82K they weighed in. Maybe now that the goal of $100K looks assured, they can rest easy that they won't be accused of being anything so wildly anti Conservative Canadian as pro-healthcare for all.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Remember the Ottawa cop who abused a black woman?



Sgt Steven Desjourdy has a new job. That's him on the right.

Yes Desjourdy - who should NOT even be allowed within 10 metres of any woman in police custody - now works in the division that investigates human trafficking.

In April this year - yes in 2014 - Desjourdy was "found guilty of discreditable conduct at an internal Ottawa police disciplinary hearing into a widely reported, controversial cellblock strip search in 2008.

In September 2008, Desjourdy left a female prisoner half naked in pants soaked with urine; her shirt and bra had been cut off during a strip search [...]

It took more than three hours for Desjourdy to provide her with temporary clothing called a blue suit."

DAMMIT JANET! has written about Desjourdy or pointed to him in reference to cop violence towards women in police custody.

For example, this: "a judge recently exonerated the sexualized brutality that a police officer used against a woman detained for alleged public intoxication - a "charge" which was never actually shown to be founded.

Violent cops like Steve Desjourdy sexually humiliate, degrade and punish jailed women with impunity. His actions which were challenged in criminal court, have been excused and thus can become the official standard that police taking women into custody can apply.

According to the judge who presided over the trial, Desjourdy "used reasonable force".

Many who viewed the internal video that captured Desjourdy and his colleagues' actions, observed that he seemed to be enjoying his job, exerting force in order to break the detained woman's will and her instinct to defend herself from the cops' deliberate, sexualized violations.


Meanwhile, last week some Harper government MPs staged a series of opportunistic histrionics at the Justice Committee, ostensibly to hear presentations from women who have been trafficked and religious groups hoping to receive a large chunk of money in return for rescuing stigmatized victims they'll rehabilitate and pity, ALL in support of C36.

ADDED: This from Kate Heartfield captures the intent of the CPC dog-and-pony show, as well as the very worst moment when the chortling, snorting, oinking Con MP Goguen tried to score points against a lawyer (who substantiated his opposition to C36 with evidence) by badgering a multiple-rapes survivor.

(DJ! does NOT support C36; it is contempt for women and for the law.  In that blogpost, I reminded Peter MacKay - so greatly disgusted with "perverts" who purchase sexual services - that he might direct some of his outrage towards a certain Con politician, a buddy of Harper who subjected his wife to the very degradation that so incensed the Minister of Justice. Juxtapose this with the passage here, where Rob Ford offered up Renata to anyone interested. Procurement, or trafficking his wife. Is that a Ford family value?)

Back at the Justice Committee hearings, law enforcement witnesses like Chiefs of police supporting C36 were unable to explain why current criminal code sanctions against human trafficking aren't being enforced to stop "procurement" and the enslavement of women into forced sex work through threats, confinement and other brutal methods.  

And the focus of MP Joy Smith's (yes, the MP who hired Vic Toews' mistress) attention at the hearings was riveted upon the horrific, brutal stories told by women who had been trafficked.



Despite numerous fundamentalist religious groups vehemently claiming thousands upon thousands of women are sexually assaulted 10, 20, 30 times daily, very few police investigations, arrests, charges, and prosecutions of human trafficking are being followed through in any rigorous or systematic way.



On the last day of the hearings Christa Big Canoe of the Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto challenged the legal sloppiness of the pro-C36 crowd who used trafficking, and prostituting as synonyms for one and same criminal activity.  

MPs should distinguish between sex work and human trafficking as they consider bringing in a new prostitution law to replace the one struck down last year by the Supreme Court, an expert said Thursday.
After three days of often heart-wrenching testimony, the House justice committee is wrapping up the first phase of its work on the government's proposed prostitution law rewrite.
Many of the witnesses told horrifying tales of being trafficked and abused, while others spoke in favour of letting sex workers choose to sell their services.
Christa Big Canoe, legal advocacy director at Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, summarized the divide following 20 hours of hearings.
"[What] we're hearing a lot from a lot of the witnesses is the interconnectedness, but what we're not hearing is the distinct differences between trafficking and sex work," she said.
Big Canoe suggested better enforcing Canada's existing human trafficking laws if MPs are worried about the problem. Studies of human trafficking, she said, talk about how elusive the traffickers are.
"So the question I have to this committee is, how is that going to change by the provisions that you're now proposing, and what can be done to change that if it's not already occurring?"
The committee has heard from police officers that it's difficult to charge alleged human traffickers and that some law enforcement agencies use the threat of charges against prostitutes to extricate them and have them provide evidence against the traffickers.
Big Canoe pointed out that last year's Supreme Court ruling known as Bedford dealt specifically with Canada's prostitution laws.
"Bedford was about sex work. It wasn't about trafficking. We have laws in Canada about trafficking that aren't actually being used well. 
So Sgt Desjourdy, "known to police" for brutalizing women in police custody, is assigned to Human Trafficking at the Ottawa Police Services.

What sadistic person in Human Resources assumed this bully and abuser of women would be an appropriate fit for law enforcement tactics which Prohibitionists and Evangelicals are counting upon to "extricate" women from coerced sex work, arrest them, threaten them until they agree to testify against their traffickers then afterwards dump them somewhere, perhaps in the basement of a church where Harper Conservative business men can exploit them as "regular" low-waged-with-no-benefits workers.  

Oh. Wait.

Grand merci @kwetoday whose tweet tipped me off to Desjourdy's new job.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Turnabout: WE Have Conscience Issues Too

This is good.

An Edmonton teenager and her mother have successfully filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, alleging the Edmonton Public School District’s use of a Christian fundamentalist abstinence education program infringed upon their rights as non-Christians.

And it should start a trend.



A similar objection to sex-ed taught by religious nutbars, who, by the way, run fake abortion clinics in the schools' neighbourhoods, was based on the lies and distortions typically offered in such courses.

Why bother with facts and science and tolerance? Let's just cut to the chase and use their tactics against them.

In other words, you have fucking conscience issues, nutbars? So do we.

Take your Christian Sharia crap and stuff it.

UPDATE: CBC interview at 7:00 mark here.

UPPITY-DATE: Victory! Edmonton School Board will look for other providers. Squeaky wheel wins!

UPPITY-DATE 3: Power and Politics panel (50:43 mark) destroys any semblance of justification for religion in publicly funded schools.

A brief note on the Hobby Lobby thing.

Well, not really, because it's a more general point that has been made before, and I want to point it out again. In reading a lot of the reaction to the US Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, in which they decide something something about Hobby Lobby not having to pay to provide a form for something something IUD (I currently can't be bothered to parse the complexity of US health insurance), I find that a lot of people still ask the question: if the religious far-right hates abortion, why would it strive so assiduously for contra-contraception? I find increasingly that the answer to this sort of question is to take the outcome of the policy at face value. The gruesome weirdnessess in not-so-historical Ireland? If you look at it with utopia-goggles, then it all makes sense.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Stories from the NB abortion clinic

At DAMMIT JANET! we have posted much about choice and abortion rights.  FH and I started off at _Birth Pangs_ over 7 years ago, writing about the erosion of women's reproductive choices and our human right to control every aspect of our sexualities and procreation potential.

Since founding DJ! we have expanded our feminist scrutiny to other current concerns, while offering our criticism, our support and our activism. 

But like salmon swimming against the current we are compelled to return to violence against women and reproductive choices; wife battering (as we called it then), rape, contraception and abortion were the hot-button issues in the 1970s and it would seem Plus ça change plus c'est la même chose...

There are two pieces that I posted that are fundamental to understanding - at the very least - abortion access as harm reduction.

Why a coat-hanger as a pro-choice meme?

No-choice Vulture Culture: Let women die or go to prison.

The one that I have yet to write would be a recollection of miscarriage, pregnancy and abortion.  Inspired by the courage of the New Brunswick woman who generously shared with DJ! the account below, I might do that soon.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

"I found out that I was pregnant the day after Boxing Day. I was 5 days late for my period. I was NEVER late. I was also in the throes of parenting a 3-­year-­old boy. This coupled with the fact that I had been suffering from a terrible bout of depression and anxiety—a mental challenge that resulted from juggling my intensive role as a full-­time stay-­at-­home mom, while working remotely for a feminist maternal academic organization and publishing. It seems that not only had the bitter loneliness of being a stay-­at-­home mom and remote worker had gotten to me, but I had also started to ignore the strategies and activities that I had previously used to combat stress, such as running, weight lifting and yoga, started drinking more, and literally succumbed to the very notion of intensive mothering practices—the practices that I had been critiquing through graduate school and beyond.

When I peed on that stick, I instantly knew that I would have an abortion. Although I loved my son, the post-­partum period was less than ideal. You know that old saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’? Well, I was still searching for that village. The experience of motherhood had felt less like a village and more like a stranded island—where I had no hope of being of rescued from. I often felt very alone and had very little support (if any at all) from my family and my husband’s family lived too far away. My husband and I had decided very early on that we only wanted one child. We could deal with one. Anything above that might send me over the edge. 

I can clearly recall the sound that I made when I saw that plus sign. It was the sound of complete disappointment and sadness. My son was in the bathroom at that time. I remember my husband quickly scurrying him away as I wept on the toilet for what seemed like hours. How could I let this happen? We weren’t using birth control at the time. We were not being safe for a really long time. 

When I called the clinic, I was 6 weeks pregnant. The woman on the other end of the phone scheduled my appointment for the following Tuesday. She told me that the procedure would cost about $800. Ouch! Knowing what I knew about the public system (I spent my final year of my undergraduate degree studying public and private abortion systems in NB), I could not go through the hoops that were required for a publicly[-­funded] abortion. I was not in the mood to be possibly judged by my family doctor and being forced to endure horrendously long wait times while I continued to experience excruciating morning sickness. 

I was extremely lucky that one of my closest friends worked as a nurse at the abortion clinic. On the morning of my appointment, she picked me up in her car. I distinctly recall bursting into tears as soon as I closed the car door. I was utterly terrified. Although I knew that I needed to do this for my own mental health, I did not do well with medical situations in general. For years, I avoided medical professionals because of a debilitating case of White Coat Syndrome. I delivered my son with the assistance of midwives, so I had not seen a doctor in over 4 years! 

When we entered the clinic, I was very nervous. As I filled out the forms, I remember feeling slightly giddy and recall joking quite frequently about some of the questions on the form—perhaps a stage of denial? This stage ended promptly though, as one woman sitting across from me stood up and ran to the bathroom to vomit loudly. I had not eaten anything that morning and that was the last thing I wanted to hear as I covered my ears and hummed to myself. Sorry woman. I remember hearing an office staff member ask her if she had made arrangements for a bus ride home with Maritime Bus Service. This was not the city bus, but rather an inter-­provincial bus system. That did not sound like fun at all. I was thankful that my house was a mere 3-­minute drive away. 

When I went in for my ultrasound, the ‘vomit woman’ was getting counseled, but had to rush past us to vomit again. This is where I definitely lost it a bit. When I finally calmed down, my nurse friend continued with the ultrasound and told me that I had actually measured at 7 weeks, rather than 6. She was a little surprised that I wanted to see my fetus in the ultrasound. It was important though that I see him or her so that I knew that it was real and that my decision was real. I couldn’t think of it as just mere a mass of cells or tissue. There was a real live person growing inside of me. This could’ve been my son’s little brother or sister. This was my decision to end a life and I needed this for closure. 

After my ultrasound and counseling session (which included a dose of pain reliever and Ativan, an envelope of antibiotics, and the decision to have a copper IUD inserted immediately following the procedure), I sat and waited for the number 4 to be called, the number that was written down on a tiny yellow sticky note that was handed to me when I arrived at the clinic. As I waited, a woman with 2 children arrived and was quickly escorted to a quiet room downstairs. The fact that this woman did not have the childcare and support available during such a stressful time was profoundly sad to me. I will never ever forget the look of despair on her face. 

When my number was called, I was escorted inside to another waiting room where I was told to change into my pajamas and a robe brought from home. After I changed, I sat and waited with 2 other women—both of which were mothers themselves. One woman wasn’t ready for a second child and another woman had just suffered from a string of debilitating miscarriages and just couldn’t go through that awful experience again. We were all terrified. I recall continuously shaking my head, thinking how the heck did I get myself into this situation. I’m an educated woman. I was supposed to ‘know better’, right? 

When my time came to enter the operating room, my heart started beating a mile a minute. I remember being very light headed as I lay down on the table and placed my legs in the stirrups. When my doctor told me to scoot my bum down to the end of the table, I tried practicing my ‘yoga breathing’…breathe in through the nose, breathe out through the nose. This worked well considering I was having nitrous oxide (ahem, laughing gas) during my procedure. When I started to breathe the laughing gas in, I don’t really recall much physical discomfort or pain, I just remember the wave of emotions that I was experiencing. I don’t remember the sounds or the smells of the room, I just remember holding my friend’s hand as the tears poured down my face. I felt great despair and disappointment in myself. I felt extreme sadness for the vomiting woman who had to take the bus, for the woman with the 2 kids, and the other 2 mothers that I spoke to in the inside waiting room. But I also remember feeling extreme gratitude and love—not only for my friend who was able be there for me to hold my hand during the procedure, but for the doctor who was performing the procedure and the women that worked at the clinic. A life may have been ending on this table, but these women were saving MY life. The procedure seemed to take forever, although I know it only lasted about 5 or 10 minutes. Once completed, they performed an ultrasound to make sure that they had taken out all of the ‘tissue’ and then inserted my IUD. I remember asking if I could see that tissue, but it was already gone. 

Immediately following the procedure, I was escorted into a recovery room, where I was given juice and toast. Once the effects of the drugs wore off, I was able to go home. After picking up supplies on my way home, I arrived home to the comforting and loving faces of my husband and child. The rest of the day was spent sleeping and recovering. Although the literature given to me stated that some women often felt well enough to return to work immediately following this procedure, I did not. I needed the time to decompress and digest the experience. 

The days, weeks and months following the procedure were tremendously challenging for me. I felt that I went through a very serious and emotionally painful experience and that many people just didn’t understand. I was just supposed to ‘go back to my normal life’ and act like nothing happened. I was supposed to take care of my son and get back to work, but I found this particularly hard. The mere sound of my son crying often sent me over the edge and I often felt incompetent as a mother and scared to be alone with him. I found great comfort though in speaking with various women friends and having them confide in me that they went through the experience of abortion—many of them living in complete silence because they feared that they would be ostracized for their decision. My depression and anxiety peaked around month two, likely caused by an imbalance of hormones. I also began the initial stages of co-­editing a collection of stories on reproductive loss at this time. Reading through the research, I learned a great deal about the culture of silence that permeates society, not only with abortion, but with miscarriage and stillbirth as well. 

It has now been 6 months since my abortion. I would’ve been approximately 7 months pregnant right now. Although I don’t regret my decision, there will always be a ‘what if’ in the back of my head. Honestly though, I think that the ‘what if’ is less of me romanticizing the notion of having another child, and more of me imagining my life and emotions spiraling even further out of control. Following the peak of my anxiety and depression, I decided to begin antidepressants and talk therapy. This, coupled with the decision to put my son in full-­time childcare and to completely give up drinking, has allowed me to come to a point of recovery, acceptance and self-­forgiveness. No one will really know the complete and utter darkness that lived inside of me at that 2-­month mark or even in the years prior to that. And no one ever will. But one thing I can say for certain is that I am serious about the fact that the women at that clinic saved my life. And for that, I am eternally grateful. 

Since I started my journey of recovery, I started a daily yoga practice, which included participation in an energy exchange program where I volunteer my services in exchange for free yoga. I recently watched a documentary on yoga and one of the speakers talked about the whole notion of karma. They discussed how karma wasn’t merely just this traditional idea that you do good things and good things come back to you. But it was more of finding and working through your weaknesses and using those experiences to give back—it’s an action of selfless service. For example, if you are a drug addict, once you recover, you should use that experience of recovery to help others in the same situation. This really resonated with me. And this is why I have decided to tell this story. Not only do I want to tell my story because I feel that it is an important one to tell, but I want to be able to help other women that may be going through a similar experience. I want them to know that it is okay to grieve or not. It is okay to be disappointed in yourself or be depressed, just the same as it’s okay to think that it was merely a mistake and move on with life. Your experience is YOUR experience and it’s OKAY! 

What’s not okay? This culture of silence! I realize that a woman’s abortion experience is purely her own and it is her decision to share it as she wishes. But if she decides to share that experience and needs to do so, she should have the full support required and not feel judged for her decision. And she also needs full and free access to abortion services, both from the point of entry and beyond. 

The fact that the Morgentaler Clinic is closing next month is a tremendous shame for our province. It’s tremendously disgraceful that New Brunswick does not cover the cost of private abortions, while completely ignoring the basic human rights of its citizens. I fear that following the closure of our private clinic; we will not only see a rise in maternal mental health issues, but also rates of suicide. That is why it is important that we break the silence of abortion experience. Not only will this allow us to analyze and deconstruct traditional discourses of pregnancy loss, but it might help us to crush the barriers to access by normalizing the experience and informing the general public that, statistically speaking, the 1 in 3 women who require an abortion at some point in their lives might just be their sister, their neighbor, their mother, their friend, or their coworker. The woman might need that abortion because she didn’t use birth control or perhaps her birth control failed? She might be poor or rich. She might be a teenager or in their 30s (like me). She might experience mental or physical health issues, or she might be the happiest and healthiest person around. The fact though that she WANTS and NEEDS an abortion should be the ONLY reason she needs to justify having an abortion. Let’s normalize this reason. It is really the only way that we can ultimately move forward and push for much-­needed changes within our health-­care system. I’ll go first: my name is Angela Deveau and I HAVE HAD AN ABORTION! If you need to talk about it, please feel free to do so. I am available to listen—unabashedly and with loving and judgment-­free support! 

*Note: I am forever grateful for those friends and family in my life that provided the greatest support when I sought treatment for my depression last spring. I don’t need to name names, you know who you are! xoxox

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FH has recently done much heavy lifting with regard to healthcare-provided reproductive choices for women in New Brunswick. Here are those blog posts:

Not-so-gentle news from the East.
Kansas? Louisiana? Nope. New Brunswick refers patients to religious counsellors
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Feminism: This is how it's done now

Healthcare: Unequal Access is UnCanadian.