But I will go there. Personally, I have reservations about the genuineness of Kate Desjardins. In fact, I believe her whole story to be concocted and bogus.
The marbles don't add up
For one thing, the first place she posted about her story, even before she went to XOX Jane, was the Facebook page of a feminist group here in Ottawa called the Radical Handmaids. The Radical Handmaids are a vicious abortion-rights group with distasteful tactics like dressing as mock nuns at the March for Life.
How did Kate find this group so quickly, and why did she decide that they were the right place to post her story (as opposed to, say, writing a letter to The Ottawa Citizen)? Most young women who go to the doctor would have no idea that such a group exists, nor would they immediately seek out this group.
For another thing, her story doesn't add up. She says in XOX Jane:
I've gone to this clinic for well over two years at this point, and I never had any warning of what was about to happen.
When I mentioned I was there to get a prescription for my birth control, she suddenly looked up at me. She then told me that that couldn't be done. Taken aback, I asked why. She pointed at the stack of letters on the desk. I took one and started reading it. I was truly shocked at what I read. This had never happened before.
What really happened
My suspicion is that the real story goes something like this: this woman is affiliated with the Radical Handmaids, and decided to pick on Kyrillos intentionally because they would like nothing better than to eliminate pro-life doctors from being able to practice.
Note that the Radical Handmaids are connected to the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. They were founded in part by Julie Lalonde, a very active feminist who sits on the board of the ARCC.
I do not believe Kate's claim that she was a patient at the clinic for two years. In fact, I don't believe she had any intention of being a patient there even on the day that she received the letter. When she walked in the door that day, she already knew very well what she would be told, and that is precisely why she had come to that clinic. She took the letter and headed straight for Facebook.
As it happens, this tactic by the Radical Handmaids has been hugely successful. In the initial media blow-up in February, Kate Desjardins even got to remain anonymous - her name only surfaced in the second round of the debate this summer. Her story has never been questioned, and nothing about her own background of affiliations has ever been discussed. The media has given her an incredible platform, without even an ounce of doubt as to her contrived claim of embarrassment.
UPDATE July 20, 2014
I have received information from a very credible source which corrects some of what I wrote above:
- Dr. Edmond Kyrillos doesn't practice together with the other two pro-life doctors. He practices in a different clinic with other doctors who do prescribe birth control pills - something that is new to me, as the media seem to lump them together into one clinic.
- The sign on the door is not always present. It is visible whenever Dr. Kyrillos is on duty at the clinic. Some regular patients might never see this sign if they always happen to visit the clinic at times when Dr. Kyrillos is not on duty.
- When she got the letter, Kate Desjardins posted in on her own Facebook page and also forwarded it to the Radical Handmaids (she and the Handmaids say that Kate sent the letter anonymously). Hard to verify or expand on this information today because it looks like Kate must have erased her FB profile and restarted it in May, so there are no traces left behind.
Based on the information above, it seems that Kate might indeed have been a patient at the clinic, but not a patient of Dr. Kyrillos. She might have been genuinely surprised by the letter, since she might have never previously come to the clinic while Dr. Kyrillos was on duty. Still, I wonder: was Kate a feminist to begin with, and already familiar with or even affiliated the Radical Handmaids?
And on a side note, why the media has made such a big fuss of Kate's inconvenience? Thousands of doctors across the country put up signs saying that they will not prescribe narcotics, even though some people do need them. And yet, this is apparently not nearly as offensive to the public as not prescribing birth control pills. It's okay to make sick people clinic-hop in search of narcotics, but the sky falls if a woman doesn't get birth control pills on the spot.
Photo: Amber B McN via photopin cc Print PDF