A Reason to Honk

It's My Body. It's My Choice
On this blustery Sunday afternoon, I was crossing St-Joseph Blvd at St-Dominique on my bike when someone honked at me for no apparent reason. A few more cars honked before I arrived at the other side of the Boulevard. From the sidewalk, I saw two groups of demonstrators: Pro-life and Pro-choice. The latter group was asking drivers to honk to show their support.

Although abortion is more of an issue in the US than here in Canada, I was wondering why the number of protesters had increased in recent weeks. In addition, I wanted to know why they had chosen to demonstrate on the St-Joseph side of Park Lahaie in front of the St-Enfant Jesus Church. Yes, there's high visibility at this intersection, but was that the only factor...

I crossed the street and attempted to have a chat with the Pro-life group and spoke momentarily with two young men. As I asked them about the religious leanings of their group, I noticed a middle-aged driver and his passenger honking and giving me the finger. The two young pro-lifers said that their group was an interdenominational Christian group that emphasized prayer and reflection regarding abortion. As I pressed further for answers about the location, one man left while the other backed away from me. I walked over to the pro-choice camp.

My reception was pretty frosty. In hindsight, I should have started with some questions for the pro-choice group first. I counted at least 15 pro-choice supporters, many carrying handmade signs. My favourite placard was "Keep Your Crosses out of our Crotches." The person who agreed to talk to me told me that the pro-choice demonstrators were from all over Canada and didn't belong to any specific group. They just wanted to make sure that the Pro-life group faced some opposition. I said that I'd noticed a lone pro-choice woman who had demonstrated on that corner for what seemed like a few years.

"So why do you think, she has chosen this corner?" I asked.
"Because it's right in front of the Morgentaler Clinic," said the young pro-choice demonstrator, who refused to disclose her name.

Aha! This was a protest against the famous Morgentaler Clinic. For those of you unfamiliar with Dr. Henry Morgentaler, he began performing illegal abortions in 1968. He was arrested on several occasions and even served 10 months in prison. Nevertheless, he continued his crusade for a woman's right to choose until the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1988 that the law Morgentaler had been convicted under was unconstitutional, which ended all statutory restrictions on abortion in Canada. Today, Dr. Morgentaler is 88 years old but still oversees six of his private clinics.

After reading about how the religious right is pushing for anti-abortion legislation in the US and given the threat of a Conservative majority in this country, a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion may once again become an issue for Canadians to fight for. Kudos to the Pro-choice supporters who have used their Sunday to defend our rights. If you drive by our Pro-choice demonstrators make sure you honk for choice!

Related posts:
Stephen Leacock's Last Laugh
The CBC Investigates Sexism in Publishing
Guerrilla Girls, Humour and Hope
Publishing: What If...?
Publishing: What's "Good" and "Important"  (Stats on the # of books authored by women that are reviewed)
CBC: The Elephant in the Room  (Terry Fallis's book beats Carol Shields in CanadaReads)
Reads from Men



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