Joyce Arthur


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    Do we need a law on abortion at all?


    Joyce Arthur(Canada)

    Director Pro-Choice Action Network

    Editor of the Pro-Choice Press


    "Keep Your Laws Off My Body!"

    Canada is the only democratic, industrialized country in the world with NO laws against abortion (since 1988). Abortion is managed like any other necessary health procedure, and as a result, services have flourished and improved significantly, with no ill effects or abuses.  Legal restrictions against abortion are leftover artifacts from the days of criminal abortion and are fundamentally unjust, with many negative consequences:  They reduce access to abortion, pose arbitrary obstacles, marginalize abortion outside the medical mainstream, stigmatize healthcare professionals, turn abortion into a political target for extremists, and breed hypocrisy and disrespect for the law. Most importantly, they discriminate against women and violate women's constitutional right to equality. Laws against abortion amount to a publicly-sanctioned judgment against women's moral reasoning, their sexuality, and their right to control their own lives.

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    Exposing Anti-Abortion "Counselling" Centres
    Joyce Arthur, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Vancouver, BC
    Thousands of "fake clinics" in North America try to prevent women from having abortions.
    These religious centres provide misinformation about abortion and treat women
    unprofessionally, often making them feel confused, afraid, and guilty for seeking an
    abortion. This presentation summarizes a project to research and expose fake clinics in
    British Columbia, Canada.

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    How to Think About the Fetus
    Joyce Arthur, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Vancouver, BC
    Should providers and the pro-choice movement acknowledge the "moral value" of the
    fetus? This philosophical presentation explains that judging what a fetus is, and any value
    it may have, is entirely subjective and personal. Only the individual pregnant woman can
    decide what her fetus means to her, and our role is to respect her opinion.

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    Much attention is given to the alleged right of healthcare professionals to refuse treatment under the guise of “conscientious objection,” especially abortion. But what about those who conscientiously commit to providing this life-saving care despite stigma, obstacles, and legal risks?  The organization Women Help Women believes in the ethical value of conscientious commitment to provide abortion care as a way to break the taboo around provision regardless of legal settings. WHW does this by equipping local activists and health workers to guide women through self-managed abortion in countries where abortion is illegal.

    This presentation will share aspects of WHW’s unique partnership model, which is based on collaborative, participatory, feminist efforts to advance access and knowledge. WHW works horizontally, promotes local ownership of joint initiatives, and strengthens and develops capacities of local and regional movements. One example is WHW’s “Mobilizing Activists for Medical Abortion” network (MAMA), which operates in at least eight African countries.

    MAMA expands community access to information and provides reproductive health training about misoprostol use and self-induction. In 2017, MAMA member organizations reached over 19,000 women with information and services.

    In Latin America, WHW collaborates with activists throughout the region, with a focus on Central America, Brazil, and Chile. The group helps local collectives launch and maintain new safe abortion hotlines, trains activists in counseling skills and medical abortion, and supports access to safe abortion via locally-led campaigns and awareness actions. For example, in Chile, the “Misoprostol for All” campaign used radio spots and street actions to promote information about the local safe abortion hotline and the use of misoprostol.