The Law of Stigma, Travel, and the Abortion-Free Island

Erdman, Joanna N.

In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada decriminalized abortion in R. v. Morgentaler. 1 Almost immediately thereafter, the Maritime province of Prince Edward Island (“P.E.I.”) passed a legislative resolution opposing the provision of abortion services on the Island except to save the life of a pregnant woman.2 P.E.I. is a small pastoral province of rolling hills and ocean coves in the St. Lawrence Gulf, and since 1988, through various regulatory actions, its government has honored this policy promise to keep the Island abortion-free and to preserve its moral landscape.3

The Confederation Bridge, an 8 mile bridge connecting the island with the mainland, tells a story of abortion travel in Canada—women’s long crossings over menacing, ice-covered waters, their feats of ingenuity, and their durable and reinforcing supports in this crossing. It is the story of a bridge built to break some women under their own weight, while allowing others to cruise past. It is the story of a problem and a solution to that problem. It is the story of a public controversy over how abortion challenges Islanders’ sense of themselves, their past and their future—the Islander way of life.

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Columbia Journal of Gender and Law

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October 17, 2017