Shannon Hardy is the Founder of the Abortion Support Services Atlantic (Halifax, Nova Scotia). Here we talk about her life, work, and views.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Were early experiences from family or personal life influential on the decision to become professionally involved in the provision of abortion services?
Shannon Hardy: I was raised in a community that helped each other, my mom and my aunties were strong, fierce feminists.
Jacobsen: Why was the Abortion Support Services Atlantic (Halifax NS) founded in the first place? Who founded it?
Hardy: I (Shannon) am the founder of ASSA (then Maritime Abortion Support Services). It can about because there were no abortion services available on PEI in 2012 and people needed a way to get to Halifax for their procedure.
Jacobsen: What have been some major developments and setbacks for the Abortion Support Services Atlantic (Halifax NS), as an organization?
Hardy: As of 2016, ASSA started offering trauma informed support training. And in 2019 we created our first board of Directors.
Jacobsen: Since Abortion Support Services Atlantic (Halifax NS) is entirely volunteer-run, how does this influence the possible extent of the services provided by it?
Hardy: In some ways being volunteer run limits us, because we can’t offer gas money or other financial help for our volunteers but it also means we’re not beholden to anyone.
Jacobsen: What is a central barrier to pregnant individuals from getting safe and equitable access to abortions in Nova Scotia? What is a barrier to pregnant individuals from getting safe and equitable access to abortions in Canada?
Hardy: The biggest barrier to access is political will. By allowing medical facilities and medical professionals to deny people access to a medical procedure simply because those facilities and professionals don’t want to provide abortion is unconscionable.
Other barriers are resistance to utilizing telehealth for follow up, not prioritizing ultrasounds for abortions and not educating the public the same way they do for other medical procedures.
Jacobsen: What have been tragic stories and heartwarming stories around women’s reproductive rights in Nova Scotia?
Hardy: I think the tragedy is that we don’t truly have universal health care.
One of my favourite stories is when we set up a drive for someone who was adamant that they couldn’t tell their family and they didn’t want anyone in their town finding out.
I offered support via text, found a volunteer and the evening before the appointment, the person texted and said they told their sister and didn’t need a ride because she was going to drive her.
She followed up that text by saying that the only reason she was able to tell her sister was because of the unconditional support ASSA extended to her, and she thought, if we could offer that maybe it was ok and she could talk to her sister.
And that is the reason we do what we do. We are here to give unconditional support, we are only here to serve, with no strings and no agenda.
Jacobsen: Any recommended authors, organizations, or speakers? Any final feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?
Hardy: I know I left some of the answers blank but I think Emma answers those. Thank you for reaching out!
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Shannon.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
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