There's been a lot of talk about abortion lately. In May the
Conservative government announced that Canada would not fund abortions
in developing countries. And this weekend the G8 Summit kicks off in
Toronto where Canada's role in the maternal and child health initiative -
and its stance on abortion - is bound to be at the forefront of health
On Sunday 27 June in Ottawa, the abortion debate will also be reopened,
but in a quiet and creative way through the inspiration of Planned
Parenthood of Ottawa (PPO).
PPO will present a staged reading of The Abortion Monologues, a play by
Jane Cawthorne. The Abortion Monologues features 23 fictional women who
reveal details of their lives through their stories of having abortions
- PPO's staged reading will feature fewer women.
Cawthorne has, over the years, volunteered with non-profit organizations
involved with social justice and the reproductive movement, where she
has heard stories from women about their experiences of having
"I think when you hear women speak about their own experience they speak
in a way that's very different than the kind of rhetoric that we
usually hear publicly and it is something that's very rarely heard,"
says Cawthorne. "Women don't talk about their experience of abortion
very openly, they still fear, I think, a lot of judgment and they take a
risk if they do that but when they do speak about it, its quite
different to what you would expect."
Cawthorne's fictional characters speak from the perspective of Canadian
women where, although abortion is seen as a medical matter, access to
abortion is still a stumbling block.
"These stories are all fictional, I have been inspired by a lot of
people I've met and hopefully the stories capture the themes and the
heart of what women have said to me about their experiences," says
The characters in the Abortion Monologues vary in age - from 17 to 70.
Some women speak from the fictional present and some from the fictional
past, looking back on prior experiences. Cawthorne hopes that the
Abortion Monologues will prompt dialogue about the difficult issues that
"Its not a polemic, it really does try represent how women talk about
their own experiences with abortion, of course it is necessarily
pro-choice because the characters in the play have chosen to have an
abortion," says Cawthorne.
The Abortion Monologues, Sunday, 27 June at 7:30pm. The First Unitarian
Congregation of Ottawa, 30 Cleary Avenue. $20 (cash only)