Women tell their stories in the Abortion Monologues, by Jane Cawthorne

Staged reading presented by Planned Parenthood of Ottawa

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 discussions.

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 abortions.

“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 Cawthorne.

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 women face.

“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)

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