I wrote on my own blog a few days ago about Kelowna mayor Sharon Shepherd’s plan to proclaim “Protect Human Life Week” for the fourth year in a row.
Hemant Mehta picked up the story and was rightly upset:
Yeah, she’ll respect human life… unless you’re a woman who needs an abortion, in which case she doesn’t give a shit about you.
A number of commenters shared their letters that they sent to the mayor: email@example.com
Well, the BC Humanists sent their own open letter to the mayor (and the local media outlets).
Dear Mayor Sharon Shepherd,
The BC Humanist Association is opposed to your decision to proclaim Protect Human Life Week on September 24, 2011, for the fourth consecutive year. We feel that this proclamation is an affront to women’s legal rights and the separation of church and state.
Abortion has been decriminalized in Canada since 1969 and legal since 1988. Maintaining this legality is critical for women to achieve equality in our society. Further, studies have shown that in municipalities where abortion is criminalized, abortion rates are no different than when it is legal, but the abortions performed are much more dangerous .
The Kelowna Right to Life Society that is hosting Protect Human Life Week, also appears to be religiously motivated. Many events during their planned week are to be held in Kelowna churches and they are showing a movie critical of evolution – a topic only related to the Pro-Life movement through Evangelical Christianity. Finally, their “History” page on their website ends with the phrase “With God on our side!”. The BC Humanists believe that city councils and mayors should avoid using the power of their office to promote one religious viewpoint or another.
We therefore ask that you cancel your planned proclamation.
BC Humanist Association
 Elisabeth Rosenthal, “Legal or not, abortion rates similar.” New York Times, 11 October 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/news/12iht-12abortion.7863868.html
I included a press release to the media suggesting the BCHA may pursue a pro-choice event in Kelowna in the future and seek a proclamation.
One columnist for the Kelowna Capital News has thought of a similar angle and sees how it could trap Mayor Shepherd.
I don’t know if the local pro-choice society celebrates a week of choice or not. And if it does, I’ve never heard it ask Kelowna’s mayor to issue a proclamation.
But if it does, Sharon Shepherd is going to have a hard time figuring out just what to say this year. That’s because she has already issued a proclamation for Right To Life Week that supports the “protection” of the unborn.
It’s not that the mayor can’t proclaim both weeks, it’s just that the wording of the Right to Life Week proclamation will make the city look like its contradicting itself if it supports a week defending a woman’s right to have an abortion.
Ah, the proclamation’s the thing!
The only difficulty is that despite being provincial-in-name, the BC Humanists are primarily based out of Vancouver (like the BC Lions, Global BC, CTV BC, and numerous other organizations that equate Vancouver with BC).
CFI Okanagan is operating out of Kelowna and I’ve heard that several members there want to see more action taken on this issue, but I’ve heard rumours that CFI Canada has not actually taken a stance on abortion. This despite the fact that potentially Canada’s greatest humanist hero is Henry Morgentaler, the man who overturned Canada’s abortion laws.
Regardless, let’s hope that this letter generates some press and if not, I’ll just have to go to Kelowna myself and stir up some noise. Kelowna’s a hot battleground right now as Gloria Taylor, the woman currently fighting for the right to die with dignity (a dignity that these anti-choicers want to deny), resides in nearby West Kelowna.