Writer Rachel Cairns shares her own Vancouver abortion story on this timely new podcast.
Jul 8, 2022
Podcast by Rachel Cairns, Approach, launched on June 13, 2022, just 11 days before the cancellation of Roe v. Wade in the United States. And while the timing wasn’t expected, it wasn’t a surprise to Cairns either. “It sounded like something that was really on the horizon,” the podcaster explains. “It was not about ifIt was about when.”
After months of interviews with activists and medical professionals to produce her podcast on abortion, she acknowledged that reproductive rights cannot be taken for granted: in America, of course, but also in Canada. “We only start talking about reproductive rights when they’re in danger – unless it’s a state of emergency, we don’t really want to talk about abortion,” Cairns says. Given the life-threatening decisions coming from states, one could argue that now is the perfect time to start a podcast on this topic. It’s bittersweet timing.
“I feel responsible for holding this space, and I also feel privileged to have the time to share this information,” says Cairns. “Now is the time, because people are listening and engaging.”
Approach centers around the designer’s own story – she had an abortion on Christmas Eve 2019. Along the way, she interviews doctors, midwives and experts in all areas of reproductive care, in the purpose of sharing a full story. Cairns grew up in Vancouver (“And I had the abortion in Vancouver,” she noted in our interview) and is now based in Toronto, but her podcast guests hail from across the country.
“The biggest takeaway is that access to reproductive choice, including contraception, is still very inequitable in our country,” Cairns says. While it may be easier to get an abortion in urban areas (and not by much – Cairns had to wait two weeks for theirs in that city), many Canadians still don’t have access to this essential care. .
“In our rural communities, our indigenous communities and our conservative communities, it is not easy to quickly and easily access a procedure that is very common, simple and safe,” says Cairns. Approach include Claire Dion Fletcher, co-chair of the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives and Sarah Kaplan, who founded the Institute for Family and the Economy at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management.
Also on the guest list are Judy Rebic and Carolyn Egan, who worked alongside Henry Morgantaler (Morgentaler historic victory in 1988 R v. Morgentaler decision made abortion rights in Canada what it is today. be on our money”). Rebic and Egan were instrumental in Morgentaler’s victory. “These women did the hard, unpaid grassroots work, and no one knows their names,” Cairns says, “so it was important for me to have their voices heard.”
There are notable Vancouverites on Approachalso: Joyce Arthur, founder of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canadaand Jesse Taylor of Reproductive Justice New Brunswick. And the podcaster’s most surprising guest is also from Vancouver: his own mother.
“My mother shared her abortion story, and the difference between how I was able to experience the choice to procreate and how she did — a generation apart — blew my mind,” says Cairns . “It shows how far we have come, very recently, and therefore that this progress is fragile and must be protected.”
The objective of Approach is to educate, but Cairns approaches its work in a hopeful and often light-hearted way (you can tell from the name of the podcast). It is designed to give listeners a holistic picture of abortion through the voices of people who have experienced it. “The knowledge and wisdom of my guests is imperative, and no one but the people who dedicate their lives to this type of activism can offer it,” says Cairns.
“I want to take the issue of abortion out of its silo and connect it to other issues we all face as Canadians, from affordable housing to universal child care to the continued marginalization of our indigenous communities,” says Cairns. “It’s not just a women’s issue, or that event that happens at an isolated moment in a person’s life. Abortion fits into that continuum of human experience, and that’s really how I try to approach it.”
You can learn more about Approach (and listen to it!) here.