Today, at random, I was reminded of a conversation I had with Jaime’s mother and Jaime, when I was talking about the Green Party of Canada, who seemed “okay” in terms of their platform, but who wouldn’t get my support because Elizabeth May, the party leader (And, irony of ironies, my current MP) was iffy when it came to issues of science and reproductive freedom.
Jaime’s mother scolded me for this, saying that I shouldn’t let “abortion”* decide my political choices like that, because it was more than anything a “distraction”, a “wedge issue”, and that I could end up missing out on a lot of great candidates and parties if I let that be the yardstick by which I measure a candidate’s worthiness.
With all due respect to the woman who may one day be my mother-in-law, I must disagree vehemently. When I lived in Montana, I signed petitions and made phone calls and wrote emails and letters to stop Egg Personhood bills from reaching the Montana Legislature every year. Right now in Virginia, their Legislature is proposing transvaginal ultrasounds as a requirement for having an abortion, an invasive and highly unnecessary procedure. In front of the State Capitol, a panel all males, some of them religious leaders, are testifying about birth control coverage, and no women were selected to lend their voice to the discussion.
Meanwhile, up here in my new country, the Liberal Party will possibly be supplanted by anti-choice agendas in their highly weakened state, and the Tories are trying to pry open “the abortion question” with a claw hammer, questioning at one point a foetus can be defined as a person and therefore subject to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Not much of a difference, only Canada’s anti-choicers are engaged in stealth and “what, me anti-choice? Never! I’m just trying to ask a few innocent questions!” rhetoric, the American ones don’t even try to hide their contempt for uterus owners.
In the United States, reproductive freedom is regularly used as a bartering chip in the political game, and is often forsaken by the ones who are supposed to be protecting it in order to score a few minor points in some other field. Reproductive rights have to be constantly on the defence, lest they disappear completely. What it takes for Canada to prevent that terrible fate from happening here is, in the words of (the fake) Alastor Moody, “constant vigilance!” We must not sacrifice reproductive freedom for anything, ever.
Once you’ve budged on a single issue of choice, it opens the floodgates to having to constantly justify your right to bodily autonomy and control over your sexuality and reproduction. And trust me, once you start on that path, it becomes progressively more and more difficult to fight back and protect what you have left. Never forsake it. Never let the politicians who are supposed to represent you and your interests waffle on it. There’s too much at stake for their games.
* Reproductive freedom and being pro-choice go far beyond abortion, but I let people go when calling it just “abortion” because I’ve got bigger fish to fry.