Saturday, February 26, 2011

Walk for Choice Toronto 2010

My Experience:

I woke up at eight thirty this morning to shower, get dressed, and head out. I walked to the Viva, took it to Finch, and rode the subway to get to the intersection of Spadina and Bloor. I got there at eleven thirty, and suddenly felt very alone-seeing no one else in orange, not sure where to stand, where to wait. A few minutes later, I saw wo people walking up the street, both with orange armbands on their coats, one holding a bag of signs. It took me a few minutes, but I got up the nerve to go and ask if they were there for the Walk-and luckily they were! And just like that, the uncertainty was gone, because I knew at least two other people were there.

Kira and Walker were generous enough to share the plethora of signs around and though the best was reserved for the maker-of-signs, Kira (GOVERNMENT, Y U NO TRUST WOMEN?) I was and am pretty thrilled with the sign they gave me:

I'm the one in the orange hat! "Keep your theology off my biology!" with the FSM.

We talked for a while, and then saw a girl with an orange flower in her head cross the street. She began to speak to another girl in an orange scarf, and so we followed, correctly assuming that they were also there for the speech. Chanty Morris was the girl with the orange flower (pictured above), and she's the one who organized the Toronto Walk. We waited and chatted as our group grew, swelling to maybe 40-60 people in full, by my estimation. Please note I am bad at math. What was odd though was that a small flock of pigeons kept flying between us and a Pizza Pizza across the road.

I still firmly believe that they were pro-life robot spy-pigeons that got confused by the orange of the Pizza Pizza and the orange we wore.

Chanty, by the way, went into a studio and recorded this awesome parody she wrote, as a sort of theme song for today, and I love it.

We spent maybe thirty minutes listening to speeches given by Chanty and several different pro-choice advocates, mainly working with the Ontario Abortion Coalition. (I've probably gotten their name wrong. Again, I'll fix it when I remember the right name/get reminded of the right name.) People kept honking their horns, giving us thumbs up, and that was kind of great. Several people stopped, listened, and joined into the walk, which was even greater.

The speeches were excellent, and then we were off on our walk, stopping at the end to see a fire-bombed clinic from back in the day, where we heard two more people speak, and then played Chanty's 'Forget You' Parody. We ended up at a lovely Unitarian Church, where the OAC's headquarters were, and milled about there for a while, talking and such. We spoke to one man who stopped to ask about what we were protesting, who completely agreed with us and predicted that Harper was on his way out. We met two women who were very disappointed that they couldn't have joined in. But they were rehearsing for the Vagina Monologues, so we had feminist high-fives, and that was good.

I want to do more of this kind of thing, I loved this experience, I loved standing up for a woman's right to choose, I loved being with so many people on the same page as me, and I hope that I get more of these kinds of opportunities.

Also, for anyone in Canada, MTV Canada was there filming, and Chanty said that we might be on MTV on Monday, so check out their news program and see if we made it!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Walk For Choice 2010

In cities all over, on Febuary 26th, people supporting the right for female-bodied people to choose are going to be gathering and walking to demonstrate. "We have a voice, we have a choice." Is the slogan, orange is the colour, and Chicago is the city that started it all.

In response to the mounting anti-choice legislation cropping up in the United States, Raven Geary decided it was time to make a stand, and started to organize a local gathering to express their concern about their rights, and their commitment to standing up for them. The movement has spread fast, and through the hard work of all the organizers, we are on the brink of a successful event to stand for our right to choose.

Counter-protests have started to be organized in some places, a Texas group outright saying that we 'have no voice'. Only four cities so far have confirmed counter-protests.

Is your city holding a walk? Check here! If not, it's not too late to organize one yourself. I hope to be going to the Toronto Walk, personally.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bill C-386 "The Bathroom Bill"

TW for arguments against cis-sexist remarks, description of sexual assault and an antagonistic tone.

Why, why, why, is 'if we can't exclude trans folk from those who we can't discriminate against us...they might use our BATHROOMS' being treated as a legitimate argument? It's stupid. Let's ignore the cis-sexism inherent in the argument, and think about simple logic.

Nothing is actively stopping a predator from entering a bathroom. Nothing at all. If someone is going to enter a room and assault someone...they're going to do so. It doesn't matter if the predator is trans or not, or pretending to be trans. There is no ~magical gender shield~ that prevents people that are presenting as male from entering a bathroom meant for those who present as female, or vice versa.

I even saw a comment where someone brought up how this will stop children from differentiating between predators and non-predators. Here's a hint: predators....ASSAULT PEOPLE. They don't exude some sort of nasty aura you are unaware of, they look at you, they harrass you, they assault you. Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes has asked “How is the young girl to determine whether or not the man in the bathroom is a ‘peeping tom,’ a rapist or a pedophile?" Well, for one, a trans person who uses the women's washroom is a woman, unless they're trans* and just identify closer with the female part of the spectrum. For another, if they're watching you when you do your business, that's a peeping tom. And if they're touching you inappropriately, or worse...that's a rapist or pedophile. Where exactly Mr. Hughes thinks female predators of female children goes to use the washroom, I am entirely unsure.

People are just making this strange connection between people who have the sexual characteristics of a man being in a woman's washroom, with being a sexual predator. It takes more then that to be a predator. What it takes is, to be blunt, being a predator. The trans woman who's just walking in, going into a stall, washing and drying her hands, and leaving? How is that hurting anyone?

No, hurting your 'moral sense' doesn't count.

Because it is laid out into law that you can't discriminate against trans people, that just means you can't discriminate against them. It doesn't mean they can assault you. And honestly, if you think their legal rights would give them the ability to assault people, I can't imagine how you came to that conclusion.

Making this into a 'bathroom bill' is stupid, based on fear tactics, dishonest, stupid, and inaccurate. I've called all of the Ontario senators about my opinion on this and asked them to pass this bill into law, and I put the link to find senate numbers and e-mails on my last blog post if you would like to do the same.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What I've Been Up to Lately

 1. Deciding on switching to take Journalism at Niagara College next year.
 2. Asking my MP Lois Brown to vote yes for Bill C-389 (which she didn't, though the bill did pass the house.) And now, asking some of Ontario's senators to not block this bill, as some have speculated they might. If you want to do so as well, you can find a list of senators here.
3. I joined tumblr! And I'm really enjoying the site, figuring I can do my quicker/lighter blogging there, and keep the longer and more serious stuff here.
4. A friend asked me to help her brainstorm something to deal with the bullying problems in our hometown. I have a few ideas, and I'd honestly love to do something positive right now.
5. Trying to learn more about the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti, specifically the issues with rape in their regions, because I have a meeting with Lois Brown to ask about what Canada is doing to help with this issue.
6. Classwork.
7. Still trying to figure out the issue with GRS not being available to offenders. Finally gave up on expecting a response with explanations on how it is legal, asking a human rights group to look into it, I might be submitting a complaint with them. More on that when I have something concrete! Given up on ever, ever getting a concrete answer on the mysterious magically strange problem about how places I'd contacted Minister Toews from couldn't access his website until a bit after I started to ask them about it. I still can't help but wonder what it was. And how no one at his offices knew who his webmaster/it guy was. You'd think someone would have had a contact number in case of technological mishaps. Well, hopefully someone learned from this experience and took a note down to find out who runs their web site.
8. Thinking about going to an counter-protest  later this year to a pro-life rally.
9. Met Raven Geary online, witnessed the tumblcreation of Walk For Choice. If you can go to any of them, I urge you to do so!
10. Figured out that I really, really like politics, lol. I just wish that there was more of a chance to do good and see results.

lol, so in summary, this is why I've been posting a bit less. I'll try and post more. :3

Friday, February 4, 2011

Disproving Pro-Life Claims

 On my bus route home, there is a bill board  with a crowd of mostly-white woman, with the caption 'we regret our abortions.' It makes me sneer in anger everytime I pass it. It's just so condescending. The implication of 'well, our personal experience should clearly decide what you do with your body and your life' just sets my teeth on edge. Compound that with the fact that I'm willing to bet that very few of the people running the local pro-life group have had an abortion, it's basically just saying 'I think you'd probably feel bad and so you shouldn't have one.' And just the implication of Post-Abortion Sydrome irritates me even more. (Since it's, y'know, it's not real.) It's infantilization of women by implying that they don't know what's best for them personally, and so the choice should be made for them.

This, compounded with the amazing amount of American Pro-Life politics has me very angry, and frustrated, as there isn't much I can do, politically, seeing as I am a Canadian, and we luckily have no abortion limits, no arbitrary decisions about what rape is, nothing stopping a woman's individual choice. We still have pro-lifers, however, and I've been meaning to examine the local pro-life organization for a while. So, this seems like a good way to spend a bit of time. 

So, I'm going to go through several pages of this website and take whatever claims they make that can be proven wrong, or proven to be an unknown, and list them, with the proper proof. (Yes, it is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. It's not my fault they picked easily disproven things to back their political viewpoint up with, that was their own decision.)

A note: They don't differentiate between the two ways of measuring fetal age. I try to stick to counting from conception, since that's when they want to count pregnancy from, but I think they move between the ways of counting, though I can't be certain since they don't cite very much,

Let's start with...

When Does Life Begin?(A note: Zygotes are referred to with male pronouns. I don't know why. I suppose some might argue this is reflection of the inherent misogyny in the pro-life movement, but I'm not going to go into this at the moment.)

"Within one week of fertilization, the new human implants in the mother's uterus and is nourished there for the next nine months."
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, most blastocysts (the proper word for this stage) implant 8-10 (the total range is 6-12, but most implantations fell in the shorter range) days after fertilization. And 25% of pregnancies end in the first month and a half, of natural causes. The Reproductive Health Study Group had similar results for early pregnancy loss, and also found that women who lost pregnancies so early were more likely to conceive the next month.

"At three weeks, the baby's heart begins to beat. A microscope would reveal that this little baby has the characteristic 46 human chromosomes in every cell, demonstrating clearly that this is a human being."
I think that they're implying that people with chromosomal abnormalities aren't human beings. ...I wonder what their opinion is on aborting Down Syndrome fetii is then. I mean, I think they're human beings, yeah, but they don't have the 'characteristic 46 human chromosomes in every cell.' Wiki Page On Aneuploidy
Oh, and as an aside, it's important to remember that it's not a real heart quite yet. This 'heart' is still developing, the fetus would not be able to survive on this heart. And it's four weeks when the beating begins, according to the University of Kentucky. (And six when the chamber and valves are formed.)

"At six weeks, the baby has brain waves that can be measured with an electroencephalogram."
This is something oft-cited by pro-lifers. So often since, y'know, 1964. Not only that, it's been misused, as Dr. Hamlin was not talking about abortion, he was trying to change the medical way of ascertaining death. He spoke very shortly about fetal brain activity, and it wasn't his own research. It was a citation from another study. From 1951. And that study, done by Okamoto and Kirikae was on three-month old fetii, not forty-day old fetii, as Hamlin claimed. Hamlin also cites a book that didn't even use an eeg on a fetus, and they were late-term fetii at that.
Another source they cite this fact from is a little bit more recent, 1982. Goldenring claims brain activity is present at eight weeks gestation, has no original research, and cites other sources. Those sources are again, even older, from around 1970, and the one that cites some original research cites research that essentially proves that when you electrically stimulate the brainstem of the fetus, you get some electrical activity....that's quite similar to the response one would get electrically stimulating the leg of the fetus.
This website goes into more detail.

"This 8 week old unborn baby swims freely in the amniotic sac with a natural swimmer's stroke."
...Okay, they don't cite any of their claims, and google didn't give me anything except math and wriggling chicken fetii. So I'm calling this being a 'no, that doesn't even make sense.'
"At this age the baby is approximately the length of your thumb. He responds to painful stimuli, such as a needle prick, will grasp an object and make a fist."
...Yeah, my only conclusion from this is that pro-lifers have the teeniest thumbs. The larger embryo/fetus  is eight weeks. And I don't know about anything else, but my thumb is longer then three centimetres. And you can clearly see that it can't grasp, the fingers have barely seperated. There's another week to go before they can make a fist/grasp.

"Each organ is present. The heart beats sturdily, the stomach provides digestive juices, the liver makes blood cells and the kidneys begin to function."
Each organ is starting to be formed, they're still being developed. This web-site doesn't seem to understand that a fetus is in a process, and that bits of it doesn't pop into existence fully-formed.

"At 12 Weeks, the baby is very active! He can kick his legs, curl his toes, squint, turn his head, open his mouth and swallow."
...All of which are neccesary movements the fetus does not do voluntarily. The fetus does move, but not of it's own volition. It's reflex, instinct, and connecting the nervous system to the right body parts. It's simply part of development. Prechtl, Heinz. "Prenatal and Early Postnatal Development of Human Motor Behavior" in Handbook of brain and behaviour in human development, Kalverboer and Gramsbergen eds., pp. 415-418 (2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers)

"By 16 weeks, the baby is 5 1/2 inches long and weighs nearly a pound. Fine details of development are present such as fingernails and eyelashes"
 ...20 weeks is when the nails and eyelashes show up. There's a lot more development a fetus needs to be viable, despite the term 'fine details' implying that the fetus might as well be delivered at sixteen weeks.

And just as an aside, they have the infamous 'teardrop baby' on this page, complete with the claim it's a six-week fetus. It's an eight to ten week fetus, actually, and it's infamous for being associated with pro-life cites that rely on faulty information and emotional appeals to make their case. It's also from an ectopic pregnancy where, rather then simply abort the fetus, they removed the woman's entire oviduct. (There's no other way to have kept the sac intact.)
Page done!

Next time: Abortion: The Facts