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A region at odds: Abortion politics in the Maritime Provinces, 1969-1988

A region at odds: Abortion politics in the Maritime Provinces, 1969-1988
Katrina Ackerman


Department of History, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, CANADA.


The inaccessibility of abortion services in the Maritime Provinces remains a constant topic in the media, and yet little research has been conducted to explain the barriers to the procedure in the region. Despite many excellent studies on the barriers enforced at a provincial level after the Supreme Court of Canada case R. v. Morgentaler (1988), which decriminalized abortion nationwide, few studies provide insight into to the reasoning for strong opposition to abortion access in the region. This dissertation endeavours to fill this gap in the scholarship through a historical analysis of abortion politics in the Maritime Provinces between 1969 and 1988. When the federal government liberalized the abortion law in 1969 at the behest of the women’s movement, Canadian Bar Association, and Canadian Medical Association, opposition to the medical procedure came to the forefront. Medical professionals, politicians, clergy, and citizens quickly united to form pro-life organizations and became a powerful countermovement in the region. Through an exploration of medical society, government, and social movement organization records in conjunction with interviews with residents, this dissertation offers insight into the effectiveness and longevity of pro-life activism in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Furthermore, it illuminates the financial, physical, and psychological costs of attempting to terminate pregnancies in the region.