In Memoriam

Jun. 1st, 2009 05:13 pm
morgan_dhu: (Default)

David Gunn, March 10, 1993, Pensakola Florida
George Patterson, August 21, 1993, Mobile, Alabama
John Britton, June 29, 1994, Pensacola, Florida
James Barrett, June 29, 1994, Pensacola, Florida
Shannon Lowney, December 30, 1994, Brookline, Massachusetts
Lee Ann Nichols, December 30, 1994, Brookline, Massachusetts
Robert Sanderson, January 29, 1998, Birmingham, Alabama
Barnett Slepian, October 23, 1998, Amherst, New York
Steven Rogers, July 16, 2001, Melbourne, Australia
George Tiller, May 31, 2009, Witchita, Kansas

These women and men were murdered by anti-abortion terrorists because they offered, supported and defended reproductive choice. In addition, there have been over a dozen attempted murders, hundreds of assaults and hundreds of arsons, bombings and major acts of vandalism, primarily in the U.S., but also in Canada and Australia. In the face of these acts of terror, the people who continue to provide abortion services, and those who protect them, their clients, and their offices and clinics are nothing short of heroes.

Lest the sacrifice of those who have died and the courage and dedication of those who continue to face the threat of violence in order to provide this necessary medical service be in vain…

Support reproductive choice.
The decision to have an abortion is a personal decision between client and doctor.
The state has no place in the uteri of the nation.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Del Martin has died.

She and her wife Phyllis Lyon were heroes to me, from the moment I found their book, Lesbian/woman and started reading it.

I can still remember how incredibly exciting and empowering it was for the teenager I was in the early 70s to read Lesbian/Woman. My memory of the contents is rather vague after all these years, but I will never forget how I felt when I read it, how it felt to realise that there were other women - lots of other women - who loved women, that there were women working for the rights of women who loved women to be treated just like anyone else. That women who loved women had a history, and could organise.

I was already a budding young activist, just beginning to get involved with political and feminist groups. And I was in the process of coming out - though I wasn't exactly sure just what I was coming out as, at the time it seemed that lesbian was the closest thing to what I was.

Del and Phyllis' story - about themselves, about the history of lesbians, about the formation of the Daughters of Bilitis - was part of what helped me make me a stronger and more committed activist for social justice, part of what helped me to understand who I was as a woman who loved women (later I'd discover that the identity that suited me best was that of a bisexual, but there are some things that lesbians and bisexual women share, and Del and Phyllis spoke to those things in me) and part of what helped me understand that being out was in itself a vital political act.

Sometimes, in this day and age, when there's a section devoted to queer studies in every self-respecting bookstore, it's hard to remember what it was like when there were just a few people - lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people - brave enough to tell their stories to the world so that other people like them, people who challenged gender roles deep in the core of sexual and gender identity, would know that we were not alone, that there wasn't anything wrong with us.

Del Martin was one of the people who gave me that incalculably precious gift when I was young and uncertain enough about myself to really need it.

I am grateful to her, grateful for the legacy she leaves us, grateful for her years of fighting for all of our right to be who we are and love who we will and have that acknowledged by the society we live in. The world is a better place because of her.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

It's been announced that Dr. Henry Morgentaler is to receive the Order of Canada, our highest civilian honour, in recognition of his "commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations."

Henry Morgentaler is one of my heroes. Without his courage and commitment and steadfastness and leadership, the struggle for a woman's right to control her own body would not be as far along as it is today in Canada. At the risk of his livelihood, his freedom, his health and his life, Dr. Morgentaler fought for women's right to choose, and he made it his life's calling to provide safe abortions to women who wanted them, even when to do so was illegal in Canada. And he's continued to speak out for the need for access to abortion for all women.

Congratulations to Dr. Morgentaler for the recognition he so richly deserves.

Naturally, the usual suspects are horrified. Our weasel right-wing government is desperately trying to distance itself from the award, reminding everyone that it had nothing to do with the decision, that the honour list is decided by an independent advisory council, chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada. As if anyone thought for a minute that our weasel overlords would do anything truly honourable, or recognise a real hero when they see one.

And of course the Catholic church has said that it's truly shocking that such immorality should be honoured. As if the Catholic Church actually knew anything about what is and is not immoral, as opposed to what they think their version of a deity gets all worked up about - such as responsible people choosing to use condoms to avoid exposing themselves or their sexual partners to sexually transmitted diseases, which is apparently the height of immoral behaviour.

But enough about clone minds who are more concerned about foetuses than the actual women who, thanks in great part to Dr. Morgentaler and all of the other Canadians who worked for the right to safe and legal abortion, have the absolute right to choose whether they will bear a child or not.

Thank you, Dr. Morgentaler, for your courage and your humanity. May you wear your Order of Canada with pride.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

From [profile] rocketdreams via [community profile] feminist:

The University of Western Ontario has decided to give Dr. Henry Morgentaler an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on June 16. Unfortunately, the university has been getting a large amount of anti-choice mail protesting this decision and slandering Dr. Morgentaler. In contrast, there has been next to no pro-choice mail in support, so far. Dr. Morgentaler is a hero to Canadian women for securing the right to choose abortion in 1988, in the Supreme Court Morgentaler decision that threw out Canada's abortion law.

info on sending emails of support )

For those who aren't familiar with Dr. Morgentaler, he is probably the single person most responsible for the legalisation of abortion in Canada. Back when abortion was still illegal, he chose to perform abortions for women who needed tham, rather than send them to back-street butchers. he opened up freestanding clinics, first in Quebec, and then in other provinces, in defiance of the law, and through his court battles succeeded in proving that Canadians did not believe that providing a necessary medical service to women and respecting their rights to reproductive freedom should be against the law. He was charged numerous times, but never convicted by a jury - although the government of Quebec did appeal one early aquittal verdict which resulted in his being sentenced by a judge and spending time in prison, during which he suffered serious health problems. But that didn't stop him.

He's one of my heroes. Read more here.

Please pass this on to any Canadians you may know.

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