Colleen MacQuarrie, Associate Professor and Chair Psychology Department, UPEI

A surgical abortion is a simple 10-minute procedure that once was available to women on Prince Edward Island. In 1986, a strong anti-choice lobbying group shut down this service and for the past 28 years their actions have continued to deny women access to this health service in PEI.[1]  Instead, most island women have traveled to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and further to attain abortion services. Recently, we exposed that despite the ability to offer a more cost effective service in PEI, the province refused to repatriate the service, preferring to keep women in a state of exile as medical refugees.

PEI stands alone in refusing women any provincial access to this service, but that doesn’t mean that abortions don’t take place here. An examination of the provincial billing records over the past 18 years tells the real story. Those records show that without legal abortions on PEI, unsafe abortion practices resulted in up to two illegal and/or failed abortion attempts each year.

Complications followed many of these attempts, which suggests that those undertaken without complications were unreported. This finding has historical precedence; research indicates that when illegal abortions were performed, only those that went wrong came to the attention of medical and legal authorities.[2] In addition to the illegal and failed abortions, between 6 and 80 unspecified abortions were recorded each year. An unspecified abortion is an artifact of the coding used to report on procedures for billing purposes and reflects the coders’ level of knowledge about the cause of the abortion.  Among these unspecified abortions there may have been illegal or failed attempted abortions. [click to continue…]

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November 8, 1994

by Guest on July 23, 2014

Jessica Shaw, PhD candidate, University of Calgary

Abortion evokes strong political and emotional reactions, and tends to be framed around arguments of morality and legality. However, women have had and will continue to have abortions regardless of their morality, regardless of their legality, regardless of what the foetus may or may not be, and regardless of whether they are offered in safe medical settings, or in clandestine conditions. The need for abortion is present for people in every social class, every region, and every belief system.  As the debate about abortion rages on, physicians continue to provide women with the abortion care that they need. In Canada, abortion providers are often stigmatized as single-issue activists whose entire identities are described with the derogatory title “abortionist”.  By some, they are imagined to be anti-woman, anti-child, and anti-family, and because of this, they are targets for harassment and violence. In reality, abortion providers are mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, daughters, sons, partners, lovers, and friends. They are physicians who support families by ensuring that each woman is able to decide if, when, and how many children to have. In Canada, most abortion providers are family physicians who offer abortion care as a part of their comprehensive medical practice.

While research consistently affirms that the majority of Canadians support abortion rights, there is a faction of society that is anti-abortion, and an even smaller faction that expresses their opposition to abortion by targeting abortion providers for harassment and violence. Most abortion providers will not face acts of violence that are personally directed at them, but most will face harassment, and all live with the awareness that they could be targeted simply for the work that they do. For both new physicians and seasoned abortion providers, there is one event in Canadian history that forever changed the climate in which abortion care is offered.

On November 8, 1994, Dr. Garson Romalis (colloquially known as Gary) survivedthe first recorded sniper attack on a Canadian abortion provider. [click to continue…]


Scientific Reasoning in the Canadian Anti-Abortion Movement

July 22, 2014

Katrina Ackerman, PhD Candidate, University of Waterloo Recent media coverage of an Alberta doctor’s refusal to prescribe birth control to walk-in clinic patients indicates the medical profession’s ongoing struggle to balance personal morality and professional ethics. Whether a doctor should be able to deny birth control prescriptions or abortion referrals based on moral or religious […]

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Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution Conference, August 7-8, 2014, Charlottetown, PEI

July 21, 2014

Dr. Shannon Stettner, Special Series Guest Editor It’s hard to study abortion without being an activist.  Reading about or hearing women’s experiences with unplanned pregnancies, past and present, and the challenges they encounter and overcome – or don’t – in their efforts to end those pregnancies is politicizing. When you study abortion experiences from the […]

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Podcast: 2014 CHA Annual Meeting Keynote Address by Ian McKay

July 18, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download On May 26th, historian Ian McKay presented the keynote address of the 2014 Canadian Historical Association Annual Meeting, held in St. Catharines, Ontario. is pleased to feature a recording of his talk: “A Half-Century of Possessive Individualism: C.B. Macpherson and the Twenty-First Century Prospects of Liberalism”.

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History Slam Episode Forty-Seven: Sensationalism, the Donnelly Massacre, and Small-Town Canada

July 16, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download By Sean Graham Factionalism tends to be viewed negatively – particularly when examined through a political lens – but for storytellers, factionalism can be a very effective tool. The conflict created by these factions has led to some of the best cultural material ever made. The Capulets and […]

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Urban Transformations: An Avenue For Academic Work in the Community

July 14, 2014

By Jay Young and Daniel Ross Toronto’s St. Clair Avenue West is an important transit and economic artery as well as the hub for several of the city’s most diverse and dynamic neighbourhoods. Historically it was a key east-west axis for development in Toronto northof Bloor Street, and today the street continues to grow and […]

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Situating War Resistance within Canadian History

July 10, 2014

By Jessica Squires At this year’s Canadian Historical Association meeting in St. Catharines, I participated in a round table discussion about war resistance. As the panel showed, war resistance history is a growing area of research, offering a different perspective on traditional histories of war, politics, international relations, and social movements. The panelists included Bruce […]

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History Slam Episode Forty-Six: Ontario’s Spring Bear Hunt

July 9, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download By Sean Graham Back in April, Ontario’s minority Liberal government announced the return of the spring bear hunt, which had been eliminated in 1999. In doing so, the government cited “public safety and human-bear conflicts” as a primary motivation for the decision. This has led to a rather […]

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Marking WWI with a Travelling Exhibit

July 8, 2014

By Timothy Humphries As the official guardian of Ontario’s historical record, the Archives of Ontario is keenly aware that it must offer the public easy access to its vast and diverse holdings, and provide widespread opportunities to know more about our province’s rich and storied past. To this end, the Archives has long sought partnerships […]

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