Stitch and bitch

A womens group in my hometown of Lethbridge is rallying people to take up their knitting needles for a cause. They are leading a protest against MP Stephen Woodworth's private members bill that would redefine when life legally begins. They are concerned that if this motion passes, it will reopen the abortion debate and lead to eventual criminalization of abortion. Ya, you and me both!

I was pleased to find out about this on the cbc website. I'm glad that the bill snd the opposition against it is getting somme mainstream media attention. I don't believe it really has to this point and that is exactly what Woodworth and his ilk are hoping for. They would love to just slip this one under the radar and then bust it out when they are ready to launch their full-on attack against women's rights. 'Well, actually, Canadians may not be aware of this but the definition of life was changed in 2012 so technically abortion has been illegal since then so we're just bringing the code up to date by making it illegal under the code.'

The comments under the story on the cbc site are mostly supportive of the womenspace position but most of them seem to think it's no big deal. 'There is no way abortions are going to become illegal in this country again.'. I'd love to believe that but I can't when I consider these two things. First, although abortion is legal in Canada, it is by no means accessible. It's possible to get an abortion only in major centres which means time, travel, and money for women who don't live in or close by one. As pressure from anti-abortion groups and violence against clinics and their staff increases, fewer doctors want to perform abortions so this problem is getting worse. There are no abortion services at all in Prince Edward Island. Out of province health coverage for abortion services is difficult to access. Usually women have to pay upfront and get reimbursed. This is just not possible for some people. The fact is, with the small but vocal opposition to abortion, there is already a lot of pressure against the service providers which make it difficult for a lot of women to get an abortion and this is getting worse. It may be legal but it's not easy.

Second, although abortion has been legal in the USA since Roe vs. Wade, in many states, they have managed to make it effectively illegal by enacting laws related to it - limitting how it can be paid for, when and under what circumstances a woman can get an abortion, and what requirements are necessary prior. Although our system makes this impossible - provinces would not have the right to enact these kinds of laws - our federal government can do the same by sneaking in little rules and biols like this that won't outlaw abortion outright but essentially make it impossible to access.

Should we be worried? Yes,I think we should be. If we want to protect our right to abortion services, we need to let our government know that we dont support this bill. Now, not all of us have time to sit down and knit a uterus - you dont need to, just send a letter or email to your MP and let them know how you feel.

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