© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
UPEI associate professor Colleen MacQuarrie stands over the Women’s Abortion Access Maze research project during the Sexuality, Gender, Health Expo held at Murphy’s Community Centre.
A woman’s journey to abortion access on P.E.I. was compared to a maze of challenges and roadblocks in a participatory research project held this weekend.
The Women’s Abortion Access Maze, an interactive and ongoing project created by UPEI associate professor Colleen MacQuarrie, was one of the highlights of the Sexuality, Gender, Health Expo held at Murphy’s Community Centre Saturday.
MacQuarrie said the maze and its storylines depict real life paths and obstacles that have been faced by a range of Island women seeking local abortion access.
“The maze shows through the voices of women who’ve tried to access abortion on Prince Edward Island why local access matters,” she said.
The maze saw each participant begin with a separate storyline and go through a number of cue cards and stops that unveiled the full story. Stops along the way ranged from the woman discovering she’s pregnant, telling her parents or partner, getting doctor recommendations and much more.
The yarn was tied to each stop, with the fabric representing the passage of time through each woman’s journey.
While some of the stories shared similarities, no two experiences were the exact same.
“The stories have very complex narratives. Some have a lot more back and forth in the beginning when they’re trying to access abortion,” she said.
The end of the journey saw a comment board where participants could leave their thoughts after completing the maze.
Melissa Good was one of many who took part in the project and found it effective.
“I could have been any one of those women’s stories. It just really hit close to my heart,” she said. “I think everyone should have to experience it.”
The expo featured a variety of other activities highlighting issues, experiences and identities ignored in mainstream culture. It also featured a series of short workshops exploring topics including enthusiastic consent, sex education and contraception.