Anti-choice vigil inspires pro-choice debate

It’s been three weeks since the start of Victoria’s first 40 Days For Life vigil.

It’s been three weeks since the start of Victoria’s first 40 Days For Life vigil. The protest was organized by Choose Life Victoria as part of an international anti-choice campaign, and has garnered, well, actually very little controversy, press, or attendance since setting up shop in front of the Vancouver Island Women’s Clinic last month.

Apart from some chalk graffiti and last week’s Queer Kiss-In, the usual suspects have been largely silent this month. Reproductive Justice Coalition spokesperson Tara Paterson says RJC has opted not to pick any fights with 40 Days this time around in order to ensure as little disruption as possible for the staff and patients at the clinic.

However, she’s quick to  point out that in RJC’s opinion, the 40 Days protest “functions as a form of ambient violence in that it is meant to intimidate women out of accessing a legal medical service.”

Instead of yelling in the streets, the Coalition has decided to move the action to Centennial Square and expand the debate toward the broader topic of reproductive justice, which Paterson says is “… the right to not have children, which includes the right to contraception and abortion, the right to have children and the right to parent, which includes being free from child apprehension.”

Thus, Rock for Reproductive Justice was created.

The event — featuring music, speakers and community groups supporting pro-choice — is meant to inspire discussion beyond the 40 Days protest.

More than that, says Paterson, Rock for Reproductive Justice is a celebration of the value of reproductive rights. “It is definitely resistance to the ongoing erosion of people’s rights to control their own body, but it’s doing so in a way that celebrates our sexualities, ourselves and our communities.”

Trying to think of a way to end this column, I am struck by the realization that I have surrounded myself with people who align themselves with only one side of this debate.

Until now, this situation was in that Other category, the one with Republicans and Fox News, the one where we funnel things that happen to other people in other places, not here in the capital.

The new reality ushered in by the 40 Days campaign is a surreal caricature of our community that suddenly has me pining for the good old days of last month.

Check out Rock for Reproductive Justice on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 1 p.m. in Centennial Square. M

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