Crossing Troubled Waters

Crossing Troubled Waters: Abortion in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Prince Edward Island

Edited by Colleen MacQuarrie, Fiona Bloomer, Claire Pierson, and Shannon Stettner

Accessing abortion services is challenging in many countries around the world. Barriers result from poor access to healthcare, geographic location, legal restrictions, abortion stigma, and moral conservatism. Repeated studies indicate that restricting access to abortion does not prevent it happening, but rather displaces it elsewhere and often results in unsafe abortion contributing to maternal mortality.

Those living on islands face particular challenges presented by their geographic isolation including travel to other jurisdictions, which is financially and emotionally burdensome. This book shines a light on two islands – Ireland (north and south) and Prince Edward Island, Canada – and considers for each island, the nature of the discourse of abortion on the island, the impact that restrictions have had, ongoing efforts to improve access, and recent activist successes.

COLLEEN MACQUARRIE is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Prince Edward Island.
FIONA BLOOMER is a Lecturer in Social Policy at Ulster University.
CLAIRE PIERSON is a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Liverpool.
SHANNON STETTNER teaches in the Women’s Studies Department at the University of Waterloo.

6 X 9, 318 b/w pages, soft cover, perfect bound, $29.95
Includes photos, endnotes, bibliography, index, and contributors’ bios
Island Studies Press at UPEI
ISBN 978-1-988692-05-0
Also available as a PDF


Crossing Troubled Waters is a thoughtful, in-depth exploration on the additional burdens (moral conservatism, patriarchal norms, and isolation to name a few) placed on those living on islands with restrictive abortion laws. A must read.”  MARA CLARKE, founder Abortion Support Network

Crossing Troubled Waters provides an indispensable assessment of abortion politics and access in three island settings, using a complex feminist lens. The essays pay attention to the intersectional power of histories, geographies, belief systems, political processes, access issues, activisms, and social change. Thus, the collection as a whole provides remarkably dynamic analyses as well as comparative perspectives, within a global frame.”  RICKIE SOLINGER, co-author Reproductive Justice: An Introduction, 2017

Crossing Troubled Waters is an inspiring read! It insightfully elaborates how strategic acts of resistance over decades have dismantled the fortress mentality of island communities to improve women’s access to abortion services, and their exercise of their reproductive rights.”  REBECCA J. COOK, Professor Emerita & Co-Director, International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme, University of Toronto.

“The cool thing about this book is that it was being written at a historically dynamic transitional moment,” MacQuarrie said in a recent CBC article. “When we started the book we didn’t yet have abortion access. It was a hope, a dream.”

It took two years and a community of feminists but Crossing Troubled Waters: Abortion in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Prince Edward Island is a dream finally realized, Colleen MacQuarrie said.


New book links Ireland, Northern Ireland and P.E.I. in their paths to abortion access, CBC News, November 15, 2018

Crossing Troubled Waters was chosen as An Editor’s Pick in Atlantic Books Today, Winter 2018. It is one of “18 Atlantic Canadian Books That Are Generating Buzz.”