“We Have the Law, We Need the Access!:” Activism, Access and the Social Organization of Abortion in New Brunswick

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Rodimon, Sarah




This dissertation explores the role that feminist pro-choice activists have played in resisting and reshaping the social organization of abortion care in New Brunswick. Using political activist ethnography (PAE), my research demonstrates the ways in which activists may help to reveal the social relations organizing abortion access in order to ultimately transform them. Building on PAE and movement-relevant theories, I argue that movement spaces are key sites of knowledge production, and thus offer a useful starting point for research that aims to challenge and transform social relations of ruling. My dissertation extends contemporary scholarly conversations around abortion by offering a case study into the unique access barriers imposed by the provincial government in New Brunswick, as mediated by the province's Medical Services Payment Act. Based on twenty-five in-depth semi-structured interviews, two years of participant observation with Reproductive Justice New Brunswick (RJNB), as well as archival research into the history of abortion regulation in the province, I trace how the closure of the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic helped spark a grassroots movement to expand abortion access and repeal the province's public funding restrictions for clinic abortions. Through exploring the ways that activists have helped to reveal the social organization of abortion in New Brunswick, I argue the importance of attending to activist accounts when developing policies around sexual and reproductive health. Indeed, there is much to learn from activists' work to expand abortion access in New Brunswick. Activists, as I show, have helped demonstrate the lines of fault that exist between the institutional coordination of abortion services on the one hand, and patient experiences accessing the procedure on the other. It is due to these lines of fault that activists have increasingly oriented themselves toward a framework that makes visible the ways that access is entangled in social relations of oppression and benefit. In expanding access to abortion, it is important that activists and policymakers alike interrogate the historical, social, political and economic conditions that have led to the uneven and unequal distribution of abortion care in the Canadian context.


Sociology - Organizational
Women's Studies




Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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