Counter March to the Anti-Abortion Rally

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It’s 2014, folks.

My mother fought for the right to choose and abortion laws in France (legal, since the 1975 Veil Law).

And here I am, today, in Canada, where abortion is legal, still fighting for the same shit.

Every year, a bunch of bigots charter buses from all over Ontario and Quebec and come to Ottawa for a so-called “March of Life”—just an excuse to spit out their hate for women. The sad part is, it’s sold as a “field trip” to many teenagers who are eager to participate.

I refuse to call these folks “pro-life” because those who defend reproductive rights, including access to pregnancy termination, are not against “life”. They are pro-choice. And this is a huge difference.

I can’t explain why the relentless assaults against abortion rights bother me so much. I am usually open to debate. For instance, I am strongly against death penalty but I can understand some of the arguments from the other side. But the anti-abortion movement spread misinformation and shame women—that, I can’t take.

I can perfectly appreciate how hard the decision to have an abortion can be to make. I understand that some women, for religious, philosophical or moral reasons, oppose the idea. Then, it’s simple: don’t have an abortion. Just don’t go around spreading lies and telling other women what to do with their bodies. Abortion laws give women the choice. No woman ever should have to carry a pregnancy she doesn’t want.

I have the same approach with people who consider homosexuality a sin. Fine, don’t be gay, then, don’t marry a gay person (or if you are indeed gay, resign yourself to a life of misery). Just don’t tell other how to live their life. Don’t enforce your views on other people who didn’t ask for anything.

Fuck proselytism.

I personally don’t like poutine. But you don’t see me holding a “Eating Poutine = Sinning!” sign in front of deli restaurants, do you?

So I stood there, on Elgin Street, with a bunch of pro-choice folks, waiting for the March for Life to come down from Parliament Hill.

It took a while. Maybe they were waiting for a sign of God?

The police stood in between our group and theirs. “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!”, “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “Your backwards views have got to go!” were the messages heard. Meanwhile, we were screamed at by brainwashed teens, folks wearing religious attire and “blessed” by guys waving—yes—rosaries and praying aloud.

The police did a pretty good job of standing in the middle to avoid big clashes and arguments.

I hope I won’t have to attend another counter march next year. I hope our pro-choice policies are here to stay.

You can see the complete set of the counter-march pictures on Flickr.

anti-abortion rally

anti-abortion rally

Officer Worker on a Break, Observing

Officer Worker on a Break, Observing

Yep, That's Right

Yep, That’s Right

Pro-Choice Protestant

Pro-Choice Protestant

My Body, My Choice

My Body, My Choice

I'm Pro-Choice and So Is My Mom

I’m Pro-Choice and So Is My Mom

Pro-Choice Protestants Rallying

Pro-Choice Protestants Rallying

Keep Your Rosaries Out of My Ovaries

Keep Your Rosaries Out of My Ovaries

Your Bullshit Propaganda Won't Change Shit (But Enjoy The Walk)

Your Bullshit Propaganda Won’t Change Shit (But Enjoy The Walk)

Pro-Choice Protestants Rallying

Pro-Choice Protestants Rallying

Pro-Choice Protestants Rallying

Pro-Choice Protestants Rallying

Pro-Choice Protestants Rallying

Pro-Choice Protestants Rallying

Anti-Abortion Rally Approaching

Anti-Abortion Rally Approaching

... And These Are The Guys Who Go Around Telling Women What To Do With Their Bodies

… And These Are The Guys Who Go Around Telling Women What To Do With Their Bodies

Police Between Protestants

Police Between Protestants

Pro-Choice Protestants Rallying

Pro-Choice Protestants Rallying

... Because I'm Sure This Guy Know Much About Contraception...

… Because I’m Sure This Guy Know Much About Contraception…

Behind The Pro-Choice Banner

Behind The Pro-Choice Banner

No One Asks For It

No One Asks For It

This Guy Even Has a Rosary!

This Guy Even Has a Rosary!

Behind The Pro-Choice Banner

Behind The Pro-Choice Banner

Behind The Pro-Choice Banner

Behind The Pro-Choice Banner

Behind The Pro-Choice Banner

Behind The Pro-Choice Banner

Behind The Pro-Choice Banner

Behind The Pro-Choice Banner

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

28 Comments

  1. This morning I heard on the radio that a lot of contraceptive pills are not reimbursed by the sécu any more. While I agree it’s not as bad as protesting against abortion, I don’t understand why we can’t let women alone with their sexuality and ovaries!

    • Cynthia, I think this is a complete other issue. These pills you’re talking about are the so-called 3rd generation pills, which have proved to be really harmful to women health. Women must have a choice, but they shouldn’t be given “solution” that’s can potentially kill them and fast.
      The sécu did a lot of improvement. 15 years ago, it was hard to be reimbursed for ANY pills at all. Now most of the 2nd generation are, I think it’s really not bad.
      There is also the problem that pills seem to be the contraceptive technique by default in France. There are a lot of other solutions nowadays that are also reimbursed by the sécu and can cause less health risks. They need to be pushed forward so women have a REAL choice.

      • I’m really ignorant when it comes to the pill because I chose not to take it, I adopted other contraceptive methods (proven ones, Mark wasn’t an accident :lol:). I didn’t want to take the pill, felt wrong to me… even though I respect it as a contraceptive method it wasn’t for me.

  2. Oh my gosh, I find it saddening that it’s already 2014 and yet we still see people trying to dictate their beliefs and shove it down other people’s throats, or in this case, ovaries. Canada is not alone in this: recently, a far-right neo-Nazi party planned a march here in Berlin, but only succeeded to move 300 meters because the counter demonstration was so big that the march was forced to disband.

    • I would have loved to see the tiny march vs. the big march 🙂 That’s the way to do it I think, show them whose streets it is.

  3. Well honestly I’m not a big fan of abortion, but trust me, I don’t hate women and I couldn’t care less in which god, if any, people believe. I strongly believe that every woman has the right to decide whether she wants to become pregnant, however, this decision is made the moment two people agree to have sex without taking appropriate measures to avoid a pregnancy. From that moment on, a third party is involved. The morning-after pill? No problem, as far as my conscience goes. An abortion after rape? You bet, I don’t see how someone can possible force a woman to have the baby of a rapist.

    What I personally have a problem with (and personally means this is my opinion, I will not tell anyone what they have to do) is if an abortion takes place months into a pregnancy. After just about 3 weeks there is already a beating heart, after 7 weeks there are fingers, eyes, arms, the head… pretty much the whole body is there.

    Some people believe that a baby’s life begins with its birth, but I believe it begins much earlier. When? I can’t tell where to draw the line. I really can’t. But I believe that sex education and the use of contraceptive are by far the better choice than an abortion, IF there is a choice. As I said, I believe there are exceptions.

    In the end people must follow their conscience.

    • I completely understand your point of view and I do not fin it offensive at all. I don’t know when life begins, I don’t know if there is a “ideal cutoff”, I don’t think there is a perfect formula because each woman and each story behind the possibly unwanted pregnancy is different. This is why I am pro-choice. The woman has options. Is this a difficult choice to make? Possibly, much like many choices in life.

      I just can’t stand people who spread lies and who want to cancel this choice option.

  4. (I don’t feel like making sentences, because morning)
    – I am TOTALLY with you about the pro-life/anti-choice thing. And I am really vocal about it.
    – Personnaly, I can’t stand pro death penalty people either.
    – I am really piss off at the fact that those morons use religion to support their century-before-last beliefs. I am a catholic, I am for the freedom of choice and for gay marriage. Being stupid have nothing to do with religion.
    – In the same page, I don’t like to see communist flags on the pro-choice side. This is NOT a matter of politics.
    – Klaus: do you have an uterus? I bet not. So it’s not your choice to make. Period.
    – Zhu: thank you for being on the streets <3

    • I must admit I was a little bit surprised to see that the bulk of the “pro-choice” group was, at first, students with yes, communist flags. Later on other people joined, some in suit and tie and some with less obvious political gear 😉 The communist flag doesn’t bother me the least but it was a bit out of context. Students, I guess 😉

      I think these debates actually have little to do with religion, because in this case religion is just a silly “excuse”. I would completely understand someone choosing not to have an abortion because of religious beliefs, much like I understand someone keeping kosher, scarifying sleeping in on Sunday to go to the Mass, or never tasting bacon. This is just fine… as long as you don’t try to convince other people you are right.

      I know some atheists with very backward view and some religious people who are very open-minded and vice versa. Religious beliefs are just part of someone’s moral and personality, that’s all!

  5. Unfortunately zhu you/we will have to be on the street again and again because rights have to be defended : look what happened in Spain few months ago… sad.
    Please people understand that we don’t force you to abort if you don’t want to, we just have the right to choose if needed.. and NO it is not with pleasure, believe me. I wrote (in french) about my own experience, have you read my article (on january 2014 I guess) ?

        • Merci du lien. Effectivement, j’ai eu les larmes aux yeux… ça n’a pas dû être facile à écrire. Et pourtant, c’est super que tu l’ai fait. Je crois que beaucoup de femmes qui ont une IVG sont juste des femmes normales, pas des “extrêmes” comme un viol ou la nana qui se sert d’une IVG comme moyen de contraception. Alors c’est bien que tu aies partagé ton histoire.

  6. Damn… I didn’t know about this protest. I would have come.

    I can’t believe we’re still talking about this nowadays but anyway there is a lot happening recently that I feel slightly outdated… “cold war” behaviour, nationalist propaganda, military pride (did you see this Afghanistan day in Canada, “Day of Honour”?), religious talks everywhere…

    It’s scary actually.

    • I saw the posters calling for the counter march on Elgin the day before, I didn’t know either. I think it was a rather last-minute gathering.

  7. What really pisses me off is that the Catholic board apparently paid to have their students attend the March. Hello brainwashing! How about you teach your students to think for themselves?

    I love some of the signs though. “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries”…brilliant.

    • I went to Chapters after and many of the kids ended up there too (easy to spot them with their pro-life t-shirts!). Most clearly took it as a field trip, and they enjoyed reading not-so-religious magazines (Cosmo and Maxim weren’t pro-life last time I checked…) 😆

  8. I’m kind of like Klaus in that I do believe that a 6-week old fetus is a life. But it always comes back to the same thing for me, being childfree. If a woman gets an abortion, then she must have a good reason for doing so. There are so many deadbeat parents these days – is it really fair to subject a child to a horrible childhood and a bad start in life (a child who often becomes a nuisance to society as an adult) because the parents made a mistake and the mother couldn’t get an abortion? Not to mention the fact that (my childfree thinking kicking in again), there are already too many people on this earth.

    I’m glad that at least in France, there’s no way those people would be waving around rosaries. My cousin in Italy gave me a gold necklace with a cross on it and I took off the cross and stored it away in my apartment, never to be seen and never to be worn.

    • I hate the way so many people in North America use religion to push their political agenda. It’s a shame for both our secular state and for religious folks who don’t necessarily share the same view (as Alice stated earlier).

      • Yes, I hate that too. I never really thought about how religion and politics mix in North America until I moved to France. Now I am able to think a lot more critically about it.
        If there is something positive about France, this is it!

        • One other thing that bugs me: the Catholic School Board in Ontario (I don’t know how it is in other provinces). I went through that system and at the time I thought it totally made sense, but at the time I left high school hardly anybody was a practicing catholic and non-catholics were enrolling into the system.

          I don’t think it’s fair to give this much funding for catholic schools. What about all the other religions? Maybe the government is giving fair funding to other religious schools as well, but something tells me that they not funding other religious schools like catholic ones (based on percentage of people following each religion).

          Then all this makes me think again, if France is a secular country, then why do they fund catholic schools? I know that you must pay fees to attend such a school here, unlike in Ontario, but still, how can partial funding be legal? My husband says that this is done so the French state can maintain a level of control over this system, but I just don’t get it. Any ideas?

          • That’s a good question and to be honest, I don’t know how it works in France! From what I understand (I went to a public school), most private schools are “sous contrat avec l’éducation nationale”, which means that the state does control what is taught and how it is taught (to a certain level) and that the school must follow the regular curriculum (i.e. you can’t start teaching creationism for instance). There are several private schools “hors contrat” that are completely independent, without funding, but this is rare. I can’t think of any private school that is not catholic, i.e. a Jewish private school, Muslim private school, etc. French tend to turn a blind eye to other religions in France, have you noticed that?

  9. Martin Penwald on

    « March for Life » : the Life of Savita Halappanavar, for example ? These retards should be ashamed of her death.

    I cowardly follow Alice in Québéquie on that : I don´t have a uterus, so I don´t have a voice in the debate. Abortions will always happen, legally or illegally, with all the risks it implies in the second case.
    Eventually, if one is eager to reduce the number of abortion, the best way is sexual education, which lowers the number of unwanted pregnancies. Curiously, I doubt it fits the agenda of these people.

    Here are just a few thoughts :
    if an extracted fœtus dies, it was a parasite that plundered a woman´s body ressources (which I think is illegal without the consent of the aforementioned woman).
    if it lives, it is outside the scope of this debate.

    Thank you Zhu for being in the streets.

    • You made a great point about sex ed. This is not just the abortion “issue”, admittedly a hot-topic button. It’s also about promoting a safe and open-minded environment where women can find the best contraception method for them. Cause “no sex before getting married” doesn’t really work… 😆

  10. I think there will always be people living in the Dark Ages, and choose it over the Here and Now.

    The keyword is “choose”. If they’re going to choose to be ignorant of the facts and choose to live backwards, then they ought to let other people choose to be socially progressive.

    It seems whenever there are election times, the abortion issue always rears its ugly head. (Although it’s much, much worse in the U.S.) Curiously, I live in an overwhelmingly Catholic country now, and I have yet to see anything abortion-related. I get the sense it’s not an issue people want to debate. From what I’ve heard, women can have abortions up to the 10th week, possibly in other circumstances but I haven’t looked into it that far.

    • I think (things may have changed…) that Europeans are much less vocal about the topic since the laws were passed and it’s a status quo since it’s legal. Generally speaking, I find there is less religious proselytism in Europe, although last year France had a resurgence of it with the gay marriage question.

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