© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Josie Baker, left, and Michelle Jay show a copy of the Zine/Chapbook of P.E.I. Women’s Abortion Experiences during the launch of the publication at Murphy’s Community Centre Saturday. Abortion access was one of many topics explored at the Sexuality, Gender, Health Expo held in Charlottetown this weekend.
A publication telling real Prince Edward Island women’s personal stories of accessing abortions was launched this weekend in Charlottetown.
The “Zine/Chapbook of P.E.I. Women’s Abortion Experiences” was rooted in a Speak Out event held at the Guild last year, where Island women publicly shared their experiences of either having or trying to access the procedure.
Ann Wheatley, of the P.E.I. Abortion Rights Network, said the hope is the publication will create more awareness on an issue that has generated a lot of discussion in the province during the past year.
“We decided we would put all of the (Speak Out) stories and others together in a publication that could be shared more broadly,” she said during an interview with The Guardian.
The launch of the zine was one of the highlights of the Sexuality, Gender, Health Expo held at Murphy’s Community Centre on Saturday.
The expo saw a number of issues explored, including workshop topics of enthusiastic consent, sex education, menarche experiences and contraception.
Wheatley, one of the expo’s organizers, said the group was pleased with the event’s participation as well as diversity.
With many of the discussions being “fairly new” to P.E.I., Wheatley said the workshops brought a wide range of resources and information.
“People are coming here because they have a real interest in learning more and finding out about what’s available in the community around sexuality, gender identity and how people of different genders are being included in our community.”
One of the topics at the forefront of the weekend was women’s access to abortion on P.E.I.
Wheatley said the growing discussion on the topic in the past year has not been an accident.
“We’ve had the development of the Abortion Rights Network, we’ve had Dr. Colleen MacQuarrie’s research at UPEI that’s really shown what kind of negative impacts there are on women who are denied access,” she said. “So I think this is a really good event to bring some of that information together and share it with the community.”
MacQuarrie’s research project, an interactive Women’s Abortion Access Maze, was also at the expo.
The maze saw participants pick up storylines depicting real life paths and obstacles faced by Island women seeking abortion access.
Participant Melissa Good said she found the maze to be effective in telling the stories.
“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.”
Good was one of many at the expo glad to see the event highlight issues, experiences and identities often ignored in mainstream P.E.I. culture.
“It’s about time this event was on P.E.I.,” she said. “The turnout is really good but it should be bigger. There should be more people here.”
More information from the expo can be found by calling the Advisory Council on the Status of Women at (902) 368-4510.