PEI

New book links Ireland, Northern Ireland and P.E.I. in their paths to abortion access

A professor at the University of Prince Edward Island has co-authored a book shedding light on the link between Ireland and P.E.I.'s path to abortion access.

Idea for project came in 2014 at the International Conference on Abortion

"The island location almost creates a nesting of barriers when you don’t have resources to travel and you’re living in poverty," says Colleen MacQuarrie. (Angela Walker/CBC)

A professor at the University of Prince Edward Island has co-authored a book shedding light on the link between Ireland and P.E.I.'s path to abortion access.

It took two years and a community of feminists but Crossing Troubled Waters: Abortion in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Prince Edward Island is a dream finally realized, Colleen MacQuarrie said.  

The idea for the project came in 2014 at the International Conference on Abortion.

Barriers on islands

Half of the book centres on the stories of women living in P.E.I. The other half focuses on stories from Ireland.

The book aims to show how poverty on islands causes barriers to women seeking access to abortion services.

"The island location almost creates a nesting of barriers when you don't have resources to travel and you're living in poverty," she said.

History of colonialism, patriarchy 

It took two years and a community of feminists but Crossing Troubled Waters: Abortion in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Prince Edward Island is a dream finally realized, MacQuarrie says. (Angela Walker/CBC)

These obstacles can cause women to feel "even more desperate and even more stuck," to the point where women are subjecting themselves to self-harm in the absence of medical services. 

The book explores how a history of colonialism in Ireland and P.E.I. has affected island anti-abortion policies.

"Of course when you combine colonization and patriarchy you end up with laws and rules that tend to try and control women. And one of the important places of control is on our reproductive capacities," MacQuarrie said.

Stigma

There is a need to educate physicians, politicians and the community at large on the potential harm of denying women access to abortion services, she said. 

"When we were starting the project, as a community we didn't understand the level of harm until we actually went into our community and listened to people's lived experiences." 

On top of economic barriers, isolation and a general lack of information on how to access abortion services, some sources in the book had the additional task of dealing with stigma.

"What we have to pay attention to is the implications when you cannot control the course of your life," MacQuarrie said.

"The cool thing about this book is that it was being written at a historically dynamic transitional moment," MacQuarrie said. "When we started the book we didn't yet have abortion access. It was a hope, a dream."

The book Crossing Troubled Waters: Abortion in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Prince Edward Island will be available Monday Nov. 19 at 4 p.m. at Schurman Square at the UPEI campus.

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With files from Angela Walker 
 

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