Anne of Green Gables, the fictional character first published by Lucy Maud Montgomery in 1908, has become an icon of Canadian children’s literature and a major tourist draw for the province of Prince Edward Island (PEI).
In the books, Anne is quite a rebel in the rural Edwardian environment she is adopted into, breaking a slate over the head of a boy who bothers her in class, getting kid-drunk on cordial with her BFF, and generally living up to the stereotype of a troublesome ginger.
In many ways, “willful” Anne is also a feminist icon. So it’s interesting that the image of Anne has been appropriated for a guerrilla women’s reproductive rights campaign.
At-will abortion has been legal throughout Canada since 1988. It was previously legalized, in a limited fashion, by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau 20 years earlier. His son, newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has had his entire caucus affirm a woman’s right to choose abortion.
Women in PEI, however, have no local access to the option, as no hospital or clinics on the tiny Island province actually perform the procedure.
The provincial public health plan will pay for an abortion performed in neighbouring Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, but not travel and accommodation expenses. This has made it difficult for many women to find the time or money to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, and activist group Abortion Access Now PEI has taken the provincial government of Wade MacLauchlan to the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island in a human rights suit.
The artist Tweeted, “Have you seen my face around #Charlottetown? Snap a pic, tag me and use #iamkarats #HEYWADE… ”
Ann Wheatley, co-chair of Abortion Access Now PEI, says that her group is not behind the posters, but calls them “quite brilliant.”
The PEI Right to Life Association is not so happy about the campaign. Nicole Dupuis, executive director of the PEIRLA, told CBC:
“The character is Anne of Green Gables, which I find very ironic because she’s the epitome and the poster child of how an unwanted child can demonstrate the unexpected blessings of choosing life, since she is adopted.”
Actually, the real irony here that particular Islander doesn’t seem familiar with the province’s best-known story. As CBC points out:
The fictional character Anne Shirley was orphaned after her parents died of a fever when she was three months old. She wasn’t officially adopted until she arrived on P.E.I. at the age of 11.
Karats, whoever you are, we’d love to hear more about your campaign in the comments, below.