Publication tells Island women’s real stories of abortion access

Mitch MacDonald
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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.

Organizations: P.E.I. Abortion Rights Network, Advisory Council on the Status of Women

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • young & pregnant
    October 28, 2013 - 23:40

    I had a pregnancy at 16... terrified and very emotional ... wanting nothing more than to make it go away and avoid a lot of shame and and inconvenience on my young life.... this was 30 some years ago. I am very very thankful there was no abortion clinic down the street that I could have access to without my parents knowing. I had the child and gave him up for adoption...which was "extremely difficult" ... I have met this wonderful young man that was not aborted and I thank God for no clinics.... just saying...

  • Just a thought..
    October 28, 2013 - 20:09

    I am pro-choice and pro-life. I am not a senior @From Away. I am a woman with lots of choices. I was a teenager, married, and still married. I had lots of time to make choices. I teach my kids that if you play with fire you can get burned. If you do not want to get burned stop playing with fire. I don't think that has changed any. Whether you talk about alcohol, drugs or sex. It would be a lot easier on any woman (or man) if they made the right choices at the beginning. You are all talking about choices, wouldn't it be easier to make the right choices at the beginning? And yes you can have sex without getting pregnant. And if you talk about education on abortion...people should have all the facts what happens before, during, and after an abortion, even the risks involved (and there is a lot of risk and that is not fear mongering). It is easier to make the right choices when you have all the facts. ...Adoption is also an option...just a thought.

  • saddened
    October 28, 2013 - 19:16

    This is a hot button issue that will never fail to stir up strong emotions in any rational person. I find it funny how religion is being dragged through the mud here. Why is that the go to for pro choice activists? I am not religious in any sense, and I am pro life, it is just logical to me. I can however accept that women have a right to choose, whether or not I agree with the choice. I do not find it surprising nor amusing that many pro life activists are male. Given the fact that males are driven to protect and provide it only makes sense that we would be opposed to this idea. Personally, I find it heartbreaking to think about. Women may have a monopoly on childbirth but not on compassion. I think that I am also insulted by the right to choose given that I am extended no reproductive rights as a direct result nor do I have access to a myriad of contraceptive options such as those that are available to women. I do find it particularly disturbing that I am legally bound by a woman's unilateral decision regarding parenthood. There is actually legislation stating that I am on the hook if she says so, 18 years minimum of financial responsibility. Conversely, my own wife could have an abortion without ever telling me. Is that really okay? Really? It seems to me that this topic, like everything in a progressive society, is give and take. Perhaps if we extended more contraceptive options to males there would be fewer unwanted pregnancies, fewer reluctant fathers and most importantly, fewer abortions taking place. Here's hoping. Oh, and I'd like to thank Bill for his opinion, I have seen a lot of people bashing this guy on different occasions. Give him a break, he's defending your right to freedom of speech, thought and expression. Good day.

    • Just sayin
      October 29, 2013 - 09:20

      If your wife would have an abortion without letting you know, you have much bigger marital issues to deal with.

    • veganyogi
      October 29, 2013 - 09:37

      Your comment about males are driven to protect and provide, I can think of lot of men who have never provided financial support to the children they fathered.

  • Captain Canuck
    October 28, 2013 - 14:24

    It is the fool who believes this is about anyone other than the unborn baby. It is not the mother's body in question. She can do as she wishes to her own body. The baby has an inalienable right to life.

    • Skulander
      October 28, 2013 - 15:39

      The mother also has an inalieable right to life. Lack of abortion access kills women. So it's totally about her body and her life. Not pregnant? Not your choice.

    • Captain Canuck
      October 29, 2013 - 15:49

      Skulander, you cannot get more wrong. Lack of abortion saves the lives of women, it does not kill them. It saves the lives of the mother and all the women who were not aborted.

  • Skulander
    October 28, 2013 - 13:51

    Great! Women of PEI need to speak out about the harm that is done to them when they are denied abortion access. Women need to stop putting up with this and demand comprehensive access to healthcare, including abortion care. Because whether or not one is in favour or not of abortion, the fact remains that this is a deeply personal choice.

  • Skulander
    October 28, 2013 - 13:50

    Great! Women of PEI need to speak out about the harm that is done to them when they are denied abortion access. Women need to stop putting up with this and demand comprehensive access to healthcare, including abortion care. Because whether or not one is in favour or not of abortion, the fact remains that this is a deeply personal choice.

  • Food for thought
    October 28, 2013 - 12:00

    Media coverage is far from on sided. The story is the forced opinions of some people who took away the choice of a woman to abort a pregnancy in Pei is being challenged the system in place on the island is on sided and in favor of those who belive abortion is wrong. Now you are being challenged by a society that has a strong voice and is educating people that there are options out there. The only one sided thing going on is the close minded forcing their believes on islanders

  • William
    October 28, 2013 - 10:36

    Agree with Ambrose Atkins, media coverage is biased across the board in favour of those who support abortion. We expect better from our media. Fair and impartial reporting of both sides is preferable.

  • Brenda Bangay
    October 28, 2013 - 09:50

    I would like to see your coverage of the recent Life Canada conference,apparently you are only interested in promoting death as a means to a end.Fairness and truth in all things like the Senate or murder but not in the life of our children.Shame on you!

  • Ambrose Atkins
    October 28, 2013 - 09:16

    In assessing the most recent coverage on abortion, it certainly seems like the pro-aborts have the Guardian in their pocket. Shame on you for your one-sided coverage.

  • Captain Canuck
    October 28, 2013 - 08:10

    Bill. I stand with you on this. The logic for punishing the baby for the crime of existing is just unconcsionable.

  • Al Sides
    October 28, 2013 - 07:42

    It is funny watching the conversation around this with pro choice / feminists / pro abortion groups. It seems to be okay to use terms as freedom and economic oppression when a women has an unwanted pregnancy and wishes it terminated but when women wish to enslave a man to her choice to have the child a man wishes no part of it is called dead beat dad legislation. It isn't pro choice, it is in want my cake and eat it too. If he should have to protect himself for being in that situation of unwanted pregnancy so should she. If she gets an escape hatch, why can men not, after all it is pro choice.

    • Err
      October 28, 2013 - 10:22

      No contraceptive is 100% effective and sometimes women are raped, too. Having said that, as a middle aged person, I am astonished at the number of "unwanted" and "unplanned" pregnancies still happening among the younger generation. I don't know why they're not using contraception now that it's far more easily available. Is it just that people no longer think through the consequences beforehand anymore?????

    • Realistic
      October 28, 2013 - 11:26

      It's easy- there are no rights being violated in the abortion of a fetus because a fetus is not considered a person as such (by law or by most Canadians). Based on this premise, having an abortion is nothing more than a woman having a medical procedure performed on her to prevent the development and eventual birth of a child. Giving another entity any or all power to make a decision over what a person does to his or her own body is controlling and wrong, because as conscious, sentient, self-aware, biologically-self-sustaining individuals, we should be allowed to make that decision ourselves- beyond any and all input from others, even if (especially if) that input is based on a subjective set of fanciful ideas that some people pick and choose from (religion, philosophy, political beliefs). As far as "dead beat dad" legislation is concerned- after the birth of a child (and even a little bit before), he or she obtains bonafide personhood. At this point, the issue is NOT about the mother choosing or not choosing to enslave the father, that is a petty way of looking at it; it is about protecting and nurturing one of those conscious, sentient, self-aware, biologically-self-sustaining individuals that we talked about earlier. Of course, if what you were getting at is the question of why a woman can't be forced to have an abortion- well, that question is too disgusting for me to even approach.

    • Al Sides
      October 28, 2013 - 12:29

      The question is not can he force her to have an abortion. The question could be what if he wanted the child and she did not? There has only be one case that has been put before the courts and the mother had an abortion during the trial so it has not been heard. @Err rapes account for approximately 5%. The numbers quoted for those going for pregnancy termination in CBC was half were teens having unprotected sex, roughly 70. Yes they will have a problem navigating a health care system if they cannot enlist the assitance of their parents or an adult. PEI's Health care system will reimburse a trip to Halifax for this proceedure but how do you do so when you are too young to drive or own a car? I could make the jump here these organizations are creating need for the proceedure to not look directly at the teen pregnancy problem. They are having issues in enlisting a doctor to get the license to perform it. It will also have to be done in the Hospital because the province will not pay for outside clinics (Denistry to foot care).

  • From away
    October 28, 2013 - 07:06

    I had the pleasure of growing up on the island. The one thing I don't miss is people like Bill which unfortunately make up the majority of the islands senior residents. It's time pei steps into the real world and allow woman to make their own choices for themselves. The last thing we need is more unwanted children who will grow up to feel alone and empty that is a crime in its self. Bill maybe you are so bitter as you are a result of an unwanted pregnancy. Walk a mile in their shoes then give your opinion otherwise don't put your two cents in on something that does not effect you in anyway and mind your business.

  • Lisa
    October 27, 2013 - 19:47

    @Bill, I find your comments about "the poor rape victim". And "keep your legs closed" to be absolutely appalling! This topic has nothing to do with religion, it's about the right to have a choice! You want to bring religion into it? Your God performs abortions every day, they're called miscarriages! Also, you seem to think that if given the choice women are all going to run out and have abortions for the hell of it! This is not a decision that any woman would take lightly. Thankfully, you have nothing to do with that right or decision!

    • We hear you Bill . . .
      October 27, 2013 - 23:54

      I am very glad the likes of Bill Kays can write and be posted on this issue. The more he says, the more the rest of us can understand the mentality and "reasoning" that supports his position. It's like listening to Stephen Harper argue that building more prisons will end criminality, or listening to the Tea Party argue that insurance companies exist to ensure access to medical treatment.

  • Funny
    October 27, 2013 - 18:37

    Strange how many of the most vocal anti-abortionists are men............and I'll tell you now, abortion is not a procedure undertaken lightly by anybody, so how dare you heap such guilt upon women who have already had to make a really difficult choice!!!

  • Jerry Bingley
    October 27, 2013 - 18:20

    And so the Dali Lama of Bloggers, BILL, has spoken. No one told you to comment Bill, and neither should anyone tell someone how to control your body. Congrats, PEI Abortion Rights, carry on!

    • Dalai Lama
      October 27, 2013 - 18:37

      No one told him to comment, but he did, and he has the right to. Even more right than this so-called right to kill the unborn.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    October 27, 2013 - 17:23

    Since when did murder become a RIGHT? Just because you think it should be a right doesn't make it one. Just because our government decided to allow the murder of unborn children does not mean that it is a RIGHT. They just stopped it from being illegal to further the profits of the already bloated "managed disease care" we call healthcare.

    • Skulander
      October 28, 2013 - 15:45

      Murder is not a right, has never been a right. Link with abortion?

    • K. Tomlins
      October 28, 2013 - 16:11

      In 1988! It was stated by the Chief Justice of Canada, Brian Dickson, "“Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a fetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman’s body and thus a violation of her security of the person.” When a 'law' is struct down because it is deemed unconstitutional, does that not seem like it has then become a human right?

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    October 27, 2013 - 17:19

    There is no such thing as "a successful abortion". Any way you look at it, it is a tragic loss of life. You idiots can package it in as many ways as you seem fit to, BUT IT WILL NEVER CHANGE THE FACT THAT IT IS MURDER. Just because a lot of people think that murdering unborn child does not make it right. Stop being fooled by the world and follow your hearts. All of you DEEP DOWN know that it is wrong, just not convenient. And before you start spouting off about "the poor rape victim that got impregnated through no fault of her own" just remember, killing the unborn infant is not the infants fault either, it is your fault entirely. All choices have consequences. Although we cannot always pick the consequences of our decisions, we can mitigate the possible consequences by making better choices.

    • Just sayin
      October 27, 2013 - 18:26

      Bill, I doubt you are ever going to be able to get this through your head, as you are clearly not that bright, but we live in a pluralist society with individual rights including the legal right to abortion. PEI (as usual) is a century behind the real world when it comes to this but change is coming sooner than later. We are finally ridding ourselves of religions negative affects on western society, and generations that think as you do will not be around forever. Just to remind you abortion became a right when the Supreme Court said it was, in 1988. If you and anti-abortionists were as "Christian" and wonderful as you always say you are, you would give up all the fear mongering, playing to peoples emotions, and character assassinations that are all staple of your movement, and you would actually try and help those who need it. Providing support for a women who chooses to have an abortion is the most Christian thing you could do.

    • Skulander
      October 28, 2013 - 15:46

      Bill, when you get pregnant get back to us, m'kay?

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 31, 2013 - 15:05

      I quote your words "We are finally ridding ourselves of religions negative affects on western society, and generations that think as you do will not be around forever". Wrong, you have developed your own belief system (faith based also, but on your beliefs). Our country was built upon the religions of all of our ancestors, not just the Christians, because all major religions had one thing in common ... THEY ALL VALUED HUMAN LIFE. Please do not address me by my first name as I do not know who you are.