Anne-tagonizing posters connect icon to P.E.I. abortion debate

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 28, 2016

Ann Wheatley, co-chairwoman of Abortion Access Now P.E.I., isn't sure who put up posters around Charlottetown advocating for a woman's right to a safe, legal abortion, but she certainly agrees with the message. This poster was placed on a payphone on Prince Street.

©THE GUARDIAN/Dave Stewart

Social media group placing Anne of Green Gables posters around Charlottetown supporting abortion

P.E.I.'s most famous fictional character has become part of the province's ongoing abortion debate.

A social media group that supports abortion access in P.E.I. and refers to itself as "iamkarats", has been placing posters around Charlottetown that feature a young redhead with pigtails wearing a bandana, a likeness of Anne Shirley of "Anne of Green Gables" fame.

The poster also appears to be meant for Premier Wade MacLauchlan and is fashioned with hashtags "hey Wade", "access now" and "SupportIslandWomen".

The posters aren't sitting well with the P.E.I. Right to Life Association, which issued a statement saying it is ironic that iamkarats uses an adopted fictional character who is dear to the hearts of Islanders and is the epitome of the unexpected blessing of choosing life, even in challenging and non-idyllic circumstances.

" 'Anne of Green Gables' has warmed the hearts of millions around the world with the hope that unconditional love is possible for an unwanted child coming from difficult circumstances," said Nicole Dupuis, executive director of the association, adding that using Anne "as a mascot for a movement that seeks to end the lives of (dehumanized) unwanted children is pathetic.''

Dupuis also questions the legality of using Anne's image, which is a registered trademark.

Ann Wheatley, co-chairwoman of Abortion Access Now P.E.I., said she didn't have anything to do with the posters but agrees with the message.

"I think that it's a very creative response to a very serious issue in P.E.I.,'' Wheatley said Thursday. "There is obviously a grassroots movement out there of people who are not happy with the status quo.''

Wheatley's group, which was just incorporated in the province, is filing an action in the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island against the P.E.I. government. She says Island women have been fighting for more than two decades for on-Island, legal access to abortion.

Thursday also just happened to be the 28th anniversary of the 1993 Morgentaler decision (Dr. Henry Morgentaler ran an abortion clinic in Toronto) by the Supreme Court of Canada which held that the abortion provision in the Criminal Code was unconstitutional, as it violated a women's right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to security of person.

"I think it's very cool that it's happening today,'' Wheatley said, referring to the poster campaign. "This is a way of celebrating that victory but making note of the point that it wasn't a win that translated productively for Island women, so we still have a lot of work to do.''

The Guardian attempted to reach out to iamkarats on social media but there was no immediate response.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart