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My Body, My Uterus, My Choice

I had just finished a draining class and was on my way home.  As usual my headphones were in as I was trying to de-stress and prepare myself for another few hours of studying.  I look up as I walk past IKB and the first thing I see are these big giant black posters with inaccurate graphic images of abortion.  It was a pro-life demonstration.  

There was no warning.  There was no advance notice of what images were on display and there should have been.  These weren't images one could erase from their heads, they weren't anything that one could just ignore and continue their day with.  It was right there, smack in your face, with no consideration whatsoever of the fact that they could be potentially triggering to many people.  These images have the power to be the catalyst for past traumas.  It was unapologetically trying to get a reaction, it was trying to stir something and neither I nor my friends appreciated any of it.  

I support the freedom to protest, to voice an opinion, but not when the ractics and strategies used are harmful towards a group of people.  Not when the strategy of voicing an opinion is to use aggressive misinformation to point fingers and place blame upon groups of people.  I, as a woman with the right to agency over my own body, felt personally attacked and afraid by this demonstration.  

There's this assumption that anyone who is pro-choice, is for abortion.  I don't believe this to be true.  I believe that neither side thinks of abortion as a positive thing, however rather than calling women murderers, people who stand with pro-choice spread information and awareness of contraceptives and safe sex.  Rather than calling women "baby butchers," we understand and acknowledge that abortion is extremely difficult - physically, mentally and spiritually - so we provide ways to reach out to organizations and services that can be of more help.  

Another notion that bothered me was the idea that some people felt and still feel as though they know what is best for someone else's body, for someone else's future, for someone else's life.  They feel as though they, for some unknown reason, have the right to tell a women what she is allowed to do with her own body.  Where did they learn that this was okay? Where did they learn that their opinion mattered more than that of the person whose bodily autonomy is at stake?

The next day, I wanted to know what was going on with this demonstration.  Was it shut down yet?  What was the reaction of other UBC students? As I walked over to the Nest after class, I prepared myself for those images which were unfortunately still there.  But I also saw that there was a counter protest happening.  UBC students had gathered in front of the demonstration with signs that said "MY BODY MY CHOICE", "KEEP YOUR ROSARIES OFF MY OVARIES", "DONT LIKE ABORTIONS? DONT GET ONE!", and "MY UTERUS MY CHOICE".  There was a community of people who understood and were respectful of the complicated dynamics around the topic of abortion.  I was glad to see that many UBC students agreed that these violent strategies were uncalled for and harmful.  I was happy to hear people engaging in conversation about contraceptives and safe sex.  It was and is a positive space where people with genuine questions should not be ashamed to find their answers.  We are not here to tell anyone what to do.  We are not here to control anyone's body.  We are not ever going to shove disturbing images without your consent in anyone's face and tell them that they are a horrible person because it's not our place.  It's not our body.  It's not our uterus.  So, It's just not our choice!

Photos Taken By Anika Makim 

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