I was born late in 1963. In 1969 contraception stopped being illegal in Canada. In 1983 spousal rape became illegal in Canada.
So in the spring of 1963 when my father raped my mother the assault was perfectly legal. She had no access to contraceptives. She had little or no access to reproductive health services and certainly not an abortion. This despite the fact that she was living in astonishing poverty with a drunken abusive rapist and already had two nearly grown daughters.
In fact, gynecological neglect contributed to decades of health problems for my mother which significantly worsened the misery of her later years.
That being said, OHIP started in 1966 so she was more fortunate than her mother who, without birth control had a life of annual miscarriages that took a heavy toll on her health. And even so they both had it easier than my father’s mother who had an unknowable number of miscarriages as well as someteen surviving children by a physically abusive man who once hung his heavily pregnant wife out a second story window and would try to, in my aunt Virginia’s words, “beat the French out of her.”
Antiabortionists like to frame their cause in terms of protecting babies. I will not bother here, again, to explain that blastocysts and embryos and fetuses are not babies, and cannot be persons, but this is so. And such as it is, “pro-life” campaigners cannot be acting as they are to protect the unborn, because the unborn, in the sense that they are proposing, are imaginary.
No, what is actually the case is that these people, or more explicitly the leaders who agitate them for their own purposes, are trying to undermine women’s access to reproductive health services.
Most of the services that Planned Parenthood provide are the contraceptive and gynaecological services my mum and her mum and my dad’s bruised and beaten mother suffered without. Organizations making and distributing disinformation about Planned Parenthood are using abortion as an inflammatory issue as part of a systematic attack on women’s health and their rights in general.
And in some parts of the US this has been very successful and progressed quite far. Either of my grandmothers might have gone to prison multiple times under new legislation in Alabama because of their miscarriages. Please think about that.
Attacks on Planned Parenthood are attacks on women’s reproductive health, on women’s access to health services, on women’s rights. Abortion bans are on the same road as contraception bans and disenfranchisement of women. As the decriminalization of spousal rape. As a return to an appalling age of suffering and abuse of which we should all be profoundly ashamed.
Screening a film intended as part of a defamatory campaign against Planned Parenthood and by extension, women in general, is no grey area of free speech. It is obscene. And in its potential to spread disinformation that is likely to bring severe harm to many women, it is inexcusable.