jillianne hamilton - blog
Review: No Choice by Kate McKenna
August 29, 2018

Note: this book was sent to me by Fernwood Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Next month marks my 10th year living in Prince Edward Island. I apparently wasn’t paying attention to the fight for reproductive rights in PEI back then but it became a significant source of frustration, disappointment and then, finally, joy in the last few years.

Published earlier this spring by Fernwood Publishing, No Choice: The 30-Year Fight for Abortion on Prince Edward Island is a concise look at the struggle for reproductive rights, going all the way back to before abortion became legal in Canada in 1988. I appreciated the inclusion of background information on Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the man known for making that happen—obviously not alone, but he did a lot.

No Choice is broken into two sections: the early days of the fight and the development of strategies and the successes from the last few years. One minor thing I would have liked to have seen in this book was bolded headings for different chunks of the history, but that’s just personal preference. McKenna’s writing and unpacking of the highly politicized issue of abortion services is clear, succinct, and a pleasure to read.

I’ll admit, it’s bizarre to read a non-fiction book where you know so many of the hardworking women who helped the movement happen, or you know someone who knows that someone. One was a friend of a co-worker. I took an improv class with another. I know several of them via Twitter.

Myself and the rest of the women of Prince Edward Island owe these women an enormous debt of gratitude for their hard work, sacrifices, and risks. I am so grateful.

 

A quick anecdote to end on:

An angry anti-choicer wrote to The Guardian when the abortion services talk was heating up in Canada’s smallest province. She called the debate a “sickly fringe movement” run by “extremist feminists.”

In response to this letter to the editor, I quietly became an activist for the cause. Fearing my pro-choice beliefs could potentially affect my career, I shied away from making my contribution known. A few people on Facebook jokingly suggested we make t-shirts using these phrases and I, never one to drop a joke, whipped up a mockup for a shirt. A few hours later, the t-shirt was for sale. Every cent (I think I raised about $200) went back to the PEI Abortion Rights Network and I still wear my shirt with pride.


Related links

No Choice – Fernwood Publishing
No Choice on Amazon.ca
Kate McKenna’s website

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Jillianne Hamilton is the author of The Spirited Mrs. Pringle and the Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire trilogy. Learn more.

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