P.E.I. abortion rights activists rally for International Womens Day
Dozens of marchers wear red braids, bandanas and take part in scream choir
60 to 70 pro-choice activists marched through Charlottetown's streets Tuesday, some wearing red braids and bandanas over their faces, in an International Women's Day protest against a lack of abortion services on P.E.I.
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P.E.I. is the only province that does not provide surgical abortions, although it will pay for the service in Moncton, N.B. and Halifax. Last June, the province made changes to make access to abortion easier, allowing women to call and book their abortion in Moncton without a P.E.I. doctor's referral.
Becka Viau took part in the march.
She said it was important to her in the interest of "bringing awareness to the continued struggle on P.E.I. for body autonomy."
Red braids and bandanas nod to 'Karats'
In January, an anonymous pro-choice group using the name Karats put up posters around Charlottetown using an Anne of Green Gables-like image including red braids and bandanas and using the hashtags #HeyWade, #AccessNow, and #SupportIslandWomen. The twitter account iamkarats has been active almost daily, calling on Premier Wade MacLauchlan for change.
"People across the world know P.E.I. as Anne of Gables," explained Viau. "Anne is a pretty feisty feminist character in her own right, but really this is about shining a light on P.E.I. and some of the oppressive structures that still exist here."
The protest went from Liberal Party headquarters on Kent Street to the Charlottetown Club, also known as the Gentlemen's Club, on the corner of King and Great George streets. Along the way the marchers sang a song about abortion rights, set to the tune of "Ice Cream" from the Anne of Green Gables The Musical.
There, the group took part in what's called a scream choir, in which participants scream or yell, conducted by Russell Louder.
"This cathartic work will be full of tonal yells and primal screams that will release pent up rage against the machine (aka. the provincial government of Prince Edward Island)," said the choir's Facebook page.
The march was organized by the Campus Alliance for Reproductive Justice, the PEI Reproductive Rights Organization, Abortion Access Now, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and the Revolutionary Student Movement — UPEI Chapter, according to a written release on the Revolutionary Communist Party website.
Anti-abortion groups were also active today, leaving bunches of red-spattered flowers in public places around Charlottetown including a bus shelter.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/InternationalWomensDay?src=hash">#InternationalWomensDay</a>, 2016 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Charlottetown?src=hash">#Charlottetown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PEI?src=hash">#PEI</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCPEI">@CBCPEI</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/islandmorning">@islandmorning</a> <a href="https://t.co/veR9azCzyn">pic.twitter.com/veR9azCzyn</a>—@perosie
But some of those displays didn't last long: pro-choice activist Chelsea Ling posted to Instagram early Monday afternoon showing one of the bouquets in a trash can, in flames.
In January, a group called Abortion Access Now PEI filed notice it is suing the province to force it to provide full and unrestricted access to publicly-funded abortion services on P.E.I.