This is a heavy post to write. These things need to be said. This past week the Women’s Centre that I work at has been focusing on creating a counter-campaign in opposition to the 40 Days for Life group that sits outside the Victoria General Hospital, shaming women from the right to have an abortion. This year is the biggest year in which many different groups of the 40 Days for Life campaign has spread across North America to camp outside of hospitals for 40 days. As far I know, there is no official counter-campaign from a feminist perspective which directly targets and aims to reduce their influence. My co-worker and I got together and decided to create a mini counter-campaign called 41 Days of Truth. This past Wednesday I went to the hospital with another powerful woman, Amanda and we put up our banner, made a sign and passed out pro-choice literature to anyone who looked interested. The energy was intense as people walked by and (for the most part) supported what we were doing. I wanted to peacefully exert my right to stand there and provide support to the women and men who walked by the 40 Days for Life campaign. Our efforts garnered a variety of reactions (including a 25 minute chat with a man from the 40 Days for Life group in which he told me that I don’t own my uterus when there is a fetus in there). My favorite moments was when a taxi driver cheerfully beeped at us from his car in support of our efforts and when a woman with her toddler in a stroller walked by and said “I usually walk on the other side of the street but I needed to come over here and say thank you for doing this”. Perhaps my most favorite moment was when a woman who was riding her bike on the opposite side of the road actually crossed the busy intersection, hopped off her bike and came directly over to us to apologize for not waving back to us and to thank us for representing the other side of the issue.

Fact: The World Health Organization estimates that 20 million of the 42 million pregancies terminated each year are performed under unsafe conditions. This results in 70,000 deaths every year due to infection, hemorrhages, uterine injury and poisoning from toxins taken to induce abortion.

Reaction to 40 Days of Life: Organizations like 40 Days for Life, who are currently stationed outside the Victoria General Hospital, intimidate and shame women who are making an often difficult choice. 40 Days for Life seeks to shut down abortion providers and achieve the “end of abortion in America.” These organizations do not recognize the systemic gendered oppression that often contributes to a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy.

The support provided to mothers in our society is vastly insufficient. 40 Days for Life is not offering to support these women should they choose to carry their pregnancies to term. They aren’t lobbying for livable wages or for adequate social assistance for low-income families. They aren’t challenging gendered parenting roles in our society that leave the full responsibility of childcare on women. [Information & writing taken from an “Our Bodies. Our Choice” pamphlet written by a feminist here in Halifax.]

I realize the sensitive nature of this post, but I appreciate an open and peaceful dialogue and this is a place to record my thoughts.

I’ve watched this spoken-word video about 15 times and it gives me shivers every time.