The history of abortion decriminalization and critical advocacy efforts to improve access in Canada deserve to be better known. Ordinary people persevered to make Canada the most progressive country in the world with respect to abortion care. But while abortion access is poorly understood, so too are the persistent threats to reproductive justice in this country: sexual violence, gun violence, homophobia and transphobia, criminalization of sex work, reproductive oppression of Indigenous women and girls, privatization of fertility health services, and the racism and colonialism of policing and the prison system. This beautifully illustrated book tells the empowering true stories behind the struggles for reproductive justice in Canada, celebrating past wins and revealing how prison abolitionism is key to the path forward.
Martha Paynter is a registered nurse providing abortion and postpartum care in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The founder and chair of Wellness Within: An Organization for Health and Justice, and a doctoral candidate at the Dalhousie University School of Nursing, Martha has 20 years of experience working to advance gender health equity. Her practice, teaching and research focus on the intersection of reproductive health and the justice system. A frequent contributor to Briarpatch, CBC, the Coast, the Conversation, the Halifax Examiner, and Saltwire, Martha writes about publicly-funded health care, prison abolition, and gender equity.
Julia Hutt is a self-taught multi-disciplinary artist residing in Kjipuktuk. Inspired by her own experience with pregnancy, birthing and baby-raising, Julia works with both traditional and digital illustration to create anecdotal scenes that portray snapshots of early parenthood. Her work challenges the capitalist devaluation of child rearing and traditionally gendered work. She produces work with Wellness Within and Martha Paynter to raise awareness about reproductive justice in the Canadian prison system.
“In Abortion to Abolition, Martha Paynter unflinchingly names the carceral state as the foremost threat to reproductive justice in so-called Canada. Paynter takes great care to expose prisoners’ experiences of carceral maternity, demonstrating that incarceration (particularly of Indigenous women) enables the continued separation of parents from their children, a fundamental design element in any colonial project. After decades of frontline nursing and advocacy, Paynter deftly illuminates that fight for reproductive justice doesn’t end with abortion access and must include the fight to abolish the violence of prisons. ”
— Meenakshi Mannoe, Vancouver Prison Justice Day Committee, Pivot Legal Society
“This book sews together all of the various threads of reproductive justice work in the medical professions, academia, and advocacy into one comprehensive and accessible collection. The stories that are told throughout remind us of our shared humanity and demonstrate clearly the impact that interlocking systems of oppression have on our society. This book is a comprehensive, powerful, and essential resource for all of us working toward liberation. ”
— Emilie Coyle, Executive Director CAEFS
“This critical reading offers insight into Canadian histories of reproductive health access and the manifold violence of Canada’s carceral system, while communicating the vital hope embedded in politics and action at the intersection of reproductive justice and abolition. ”
— Dr. Catherine Bryan, Dalhousie University
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