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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘abortion

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO recommends things to do on the Danforth.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the importance of the discovery of water in the atmosphere of exoplanet HAT-P-11b.
  • Crooked Timber goes on at length about Kevin Williamson’s statement as noted by Joe. My. God. that women who have abortions should be executed.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes plans for futuristic architecture in Shenzhen.
  • Eastern Approaches observes the travails of a Roma soccer team in the Czech Republic.
  • Far Outliers notes two different movements of Romanian intellectuals responding to relative backwardness, pasoptism referring to the post-1848 effort at modernization and protocronism referring to efforts to claim all was invented first in Romania.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that in France, added years of education associated with avoiding conscription don’t produce different job results.
  • Spacing Toronto notes the failed visit of Upper Canadian reformer William Lyon Mackenzie to London in 1832.
  • Torontoist notes building regulations prevent Toronto from making use of green roofs.
  • Towleroad links to a study discussing the economic impact of anti-LGBT laws on Americans.
  • Why I Love Toronto talks about the importance of having a local barber.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russians will begin to draft first Chechens then Crimeans, notes increased state spending on Russia Today, observes the belief among some Russians that Ukraine is somehow not really a nation, and suggests that Belarus is cracking down on pro-Russians.

[URBAN NOTE] “Ghost City: 85 Harbord St.”

The Grid‘s Jamie Bradburn writes about the tumultuous history of Henry Morgentaler’s pioneering abortion clinic at 85 Harbord Street.

When the Toronto Women’s Bookstore needed space to expand from its Kensington Market home in 1975, it settled upon the ground floor of a three-storey semi-detached former residence on Harbord Street. As one of the first feminist bookstores in Canada, the collective-run business quickly became a supplier to libraries, schools, and women’s centres who drew on stock the emphasized works by Canadian authors on topics ranging from health to non-sexist kid-lit. During its first few months on Harbord, store staff estimated that around 25 per cent of its clientele were men who were either curious about the concept or deeply committed to feminist issues.

During the spring of 1983, the bookstore learned it would have a new upstairs neighbour. Following a search delayed by threats of prosecution from the provincial government, Dr. Henry Morgentaler (who passed away last week), announced he would open his first Toronto abortion clinic on the upper two floors of 85 Harbord on June 15. The press was shown a freshly renovated space filled with plants and wicker furniture that Morgentaler hoped would create “a soothing atmosphere” for patients.

The clinic’s move-in wasn’t a peaceful one. Ontario Attorney-General Roy McMurtry expected police to charge in if any abortions were performed; at the time, the only legal option required the consent of abortion committees offered by some hospitals. Anti-abortion groups promised plenty of protests. When opening day arrived, a man wielding garden shears attacked Morgentaler. Repeatedly yelling “bad people, bad people,” Augusto Da Silva was intercepted by pro-choice supporters (led by clinic spokesperson Judy Rebick) before Morgentaler was seriously harmed. Da Silva then waved his shears in the air, told the crowd to move back, then ran from the scene. (He was soon arrested.)

The inevitable police raid came on July 5, 1983. After a pair of undercover Metro Toronto Police officers arranged an abortion, other officers swept in and removed equipment during a three-and-a-half hour blitz. Morgentaler, who was vacationing in California, surrendered to police upon his return to Toronto two days later. The raid set off years of legal battles that culminated in the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to strike down federal abortion law in January 1988.

85 Harbord became a battleground in the divide over women’s choice and a target for extreme anti-abortionists. Around 3:15 a.m. on July 29, 1983, a man who failed to break into the clinic managed to get into the Toronto Women’s Bookstore. He set bags of paper afire under the stairwell, which ironically was near the pregnancy and childbirth section. A note left behind read “If your mother had taken your life away, you would not be living it up, Morgentaler.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 10, 2013 at 7:39 pm

[BRIEF NOTE] On Henry Morgentaler and 85 Harbord Street

Henry Morgentaler, a Canadian doctor who gained international recognition (and ignominy) for his fight for safe and legal abortion in Canada, died today.

Morgentaler emerged in 1969 as one of Canada’s most controversial figures when he broke the law at the time, and opened the country’s first abortion clinic in Montreal.

Over the next two decades, he would be heralded as a hero by some, and called a murderer by others as he fought to change Canada’s abortion laws.

Morgentaler, who was born in Lodz, Poland, and came to Canada after the Second World War, emerged in 1967 as an advocate for the right of women to have abortion on demand — a polarizing issue in Canada. His abortion clinic in Montreal was followed by more clinics across the country.

“His work changed the legal landscape in Canada, and eventually led to the 1988 landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision that gave women the right to obtain abortion care,” said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation.

85 Harbord

In August 2008, on the occasion of Morgentaler’s successful (if controversial) nomination for membership in the Order of Canada, I posted a picture taken on Toronto’s Harbord Street, near the University of Toronto campus, of 85 Harbord Street, the address that once hosted his clinic.

Now, in The Globe and Mail‘s words.

The story of this old Annex Victorian semi, among the storefronts on the south of Harbord, really begins on June 15, 1983, when Henry Morgentaler opened an abortion clinic. It was subjected to protests and pickets, and victories and defeats – for both sides of the debate. The drama might have ended in 1988, when the Supreme Court ruled that freestanding clinics were legal, but the rallies continued, reaching 3,000 strong. Harbord Street Cafe, at No. 87, closed shop, its windows papered over. A sign for The Way Inn took its place. The Toronto Women’s Bookstore moved down the street. Then on Victoria Day weekend in 1992, an explosion by arsonists blew the wall out at No. 85. No one was ever charged. A small apartment is there now, next to Ms. Emma Designs at No. 87. Earlier this week, Dr. Morgentaler was named to the Order of Canada.

(85 Harbord Street is small. Look to the left edge of the photo. I thought it was hiding from me at the time I took the photo.)

[LINK] “Charles Murray’s Gay-Marriage Surprise”

Charles Murray, the American conservative author most famous for co-authoring a book (The Bell Curve) which argued for the genetic intellectual inferiority of African-Americans, has come out in support of same-sex marriage. Jane Mayer’s article at The New Yorker describes how, at CPAC, Murray made a surprising case.

As he got warmed up, Murray explained that, while driving for more than an hour that morning to the conference, he had begun talking out loud to himself, which is how he usually practices his speeches. Upon realizing that he had more than an hour’s worth of fresh thoughts, he decided to simply drop the planned ones. The question on his mind was “How can conservatives make their case after the election?,” and the answer he wanted to share was drawn from his experience with his own four children. They range in age, he said, from twenty-three to forty-three. While they share many of his views on limiting the size of government, and supporting free enterprise, he said, “Not one of them thought of voting for a Republican President” in the last election. Their disenchantment with the Republican Party was not specifically because of Mitt Romney, he added, but because, “They consider the Party to be run by anti-abortion, anti-gay, religious nuts.”

“With gay marriage,” he went on, “I think the train has left the station.”

Certainly the locomotive power of the issue seemed hard to miss on a day when the top political news was Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman’s announcement that he, too, supports gay marriage. (Richard Socarides has more on that.) While Portman’s position shifted because of his family situation—he explained publicly for the first time that his son had come out as gay—Murray said his own views had been influenced heavily by friends. “I was dead-set against gay marriage when it was first broached,” Murray said; as a fan of Edmund Burke, he regarded marriage as an ancient and indispensable cultural institution that “we shouldn’t mess with.” He used to agree with his friend Irving Kristol, the late father of neo-conservatism, that gay people wouldn’t like marriage. “ ‘Let them have it,’ ” he recounted Kristol as saying, with a chuckle. “ ‘They wont like it.’ ” Murray said that he himself used to think that “All they want is the wedding, and the party, and the honeymoon—but not this long thing we call marriage.”

But since then, Murray said, “we have acquired a number of gay and lesbian friends,” and to what he jokingly called his “dismay” as a “confident” social scientist, he learned he’d been wrong. He’d been especially influenced by the pro-gay-marriage arguments made by Jonathan Rausch, an openly gay writer for the National Journal and the Atlantic. Further, Murray said, he had discovered that the gay couples he knew with children were not just responsible parents; they were “excruciatingly responsible parents.”

By this time, the CPAC audience’s rustlings had an anxious edge. Murray’s remarks seemed to surprise many in the conference room at the National Harbor Convention Center, south of Washington, even if, when it comes to gay marriage, they shouldn’t have: he’s talked about the change in his personal views before, as David Weigel and Andrew Sullivan have noted. What was striking was how critical he argued it is for the G.O.P. to make a similar shift as a party.

He also condones abortion in certain circumstances. But, huh.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 19, 2013 at 11:08 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • The Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell notes how Brazil is using the Afro-Brazilian majority legacy of the transatlantic slave trade to justify the construction of new transatlantic links with Africa.
  • Crooked Timber comments upon the Irish anti-abortion laws that just cost a woman her life and the homophobia of the Reagan administration that made HIV/AIDS a laughing matter.
  • Daniel Drezner wonders if the ongoing expanding Petraeus scandal will end up diminishing the American public’s regard for the military.
  • Eastern Approaches notes that no one in the Balkans seems to be commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the First Balkan War.
  • Far Outlier’s Joel quotes from Matthew Restall’s Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest to describe how Christopher Columbus was really riding on the coat-tails of Portugal’s successful long-range maritime exploration.
  • Geocurrents observes efforts by some Arab Christians in the Levant to revive Aramaic.
  • The Global Sociology Blog reviews Laurent Dubois’ Haiti: The Aftershocks of History, highlighting the extent to which Haiti’s catastrophes are the products of foreign meddling.
  • At Lawyers, Guns and Money, Erik Loomis maps Detroit. The extent to which the borders of the City of Detroit overlap with African-American majority populations, and to which the sprawl of Metro Detroit is constructed so as to detach the suburbs from any responsibility for the city at their region’s center, is noteworthy.
  • The Planetary Science Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla reports on Carl Sagan’s feminism.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer summarizes what’s going on with Uruguay’s decriminalization of marijuana for personal use.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • The Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell notes how Brazil is using the Afro-Brazilian majority legacy of the transatlantic slave trade to justify the construction of new transatlantic links with Africa.
  • Crooked Timber comments upon the Irish anti-abortion laws that just cost a woman her life and the homophobia of the Reagan administration that made HIV/AIDS a laughing matter.
  • Daniel Drezner wonders if the ongoing expanding Petraeus scandal will end up diminishing the American public’s regard for the military.
  • Eastern Approaches notes that no one in the Balkans seems to be commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the First Balkan War.
  • Far Outlier’s Joel quotes from Matthew Restall’s Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest to describe how Christopher Columbus was really riding on the coat-tails of Portugal’s successful long-range maritime exploration.
  • Geocurrents observes efforts by some Arab Christians in the Levant to revive Aramaic.
  • The Global Sociology Blog reviews Laurent Dubois’ Haiti: The Aftershocks of History, highlighting the extent to which Haiti’s catastrophes are the products of foreign meddling.
  • At Lawyers, Guns and Money, Erik Loomis maps Detroit. The extent to which the borders of the City of Detroit overlap with African-American majority populations, and to which the sprawl of Metro Detroit is constructed so as to detach the suburbs from any responsibility for the city at their region’s center, is noteworthy.
  • The Planetary Science Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla reports on Carl Sagan’s feminism.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer summarizes what’s going on with Uruguay’s decriminalization of marijuana for personal use.

[LINK] “Social conservatives have gained little ground in Stephen Harper’s government”

Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert makes a good argument to the effect that the Conservative government of Canada, small-c conservative though it may be, has not been allowed by its leader the prime minister to fight American-style culture wars. The question is whether the party will it continue not to do so after Harper’s departure.

There has never been a federal government caucus as dominated by social conservatives as the one that Stephen Harper currently leads.

Yet, over his tenure, they have failed to regain an inch of ground on abortion rights and they have lost the same-sex marriage battle.

Just last month, the majority of Conservative MPs who would have wanted to reopen the abortion debate were defeated by a majority in the House of Commons that included the prime minister himself.

[. . . ]

Even as Harper exercises iron-clad control over his government, his position on social conservative issues is a minority one within his caucus. The recent vote on abortion rights provided a graphic illustration of that reality.

[ . . . T]he Harper decade has not been kind to Canada’s religious right and some of its members are hoping that payback time will come upon his retirement. Many see Jason Kenney as a promising flag-bearer. The immigration minister shored up his social conservative credentials when he voted a few weeks ago to revisit the legal status of the fetus.

The battle over Harper’s succession could be a watershed moment for the Conservative party. Notwithstanding mainstream Canadian public opinion, it is not necessarily immune to the kind of fratricidal battles that have crippled the Republican Party in the United States.

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