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Abortion, choice, and living in the Maritimes

April 12, 2013

Moving here from Toronto, and my girlfriend’s mom having worked for Henry Morgenthaler (sp?) – and living in a city where abortion services were as close as the subway – its appalling to come to Nova Scotia and see that women have so few choices in their life here. 

Having grown up in rural Ontario, I know that the lack of choice is one of the fundamental costs of living outside of the big metropolises. In an urban-centric world – the rural life is considered either a bit eccentric, old-fashioned and racist, or only for retirement. The city does everything it can to get people to move to the cities – from crushing small businesses to making all the economic rules – and, in my experience, city-dwellers rarely think of the country-side as anything more than a place to go in the summer for two weeks and sit by a lake.

Of the 900,000 people left in Nova Scotia (losing 1% per year), 600,000 are within an hour of Halifax. The rest are scattered to the wind and the valleys of this province. And as far as Halifax is are concerned (see also Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and so on), it simply costs too much money to bring urban medicine to these remote outlands.

Add to that the regional attitudes about abortion and choice, and you quickly discover that most 15, 16, and 17-year-old girls who get themselves “into trouble” in Nova Scotia – especially those who cannot afford to get themselves to Halifax – are now teenage moms.

And Statistics Canada tells us that Nova Scotia leads a sad contingent of Maritime provinces, who lead the country in teen pregnancies. They also lead the country in smoking, obesity and poverty. Its the trifector of poverty! Only the American south has worse statistics.

But this anti-abortion attitude should come as no surprise either. For just as the urban centres lead the nation in smog creation, cultural arrogance, and a monopoly on resources, so to the country-side leads for social intolerance, and political and economic conservatism (Etobicoke notwithstanding).

Of course there are exceptions to the rule in both camps – and there is so much each group could teach the other, if someone would only open up a dialogue – but I’m not talking here about the exceptions.

But “the whys and what-for’s” of anti-abortion attitudes are for café debates.

The hard fact is that for many young women down here, “choice” is not really an option.

And this is most especially true – if you are poor…

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