UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Halifax social worker and abortion doula Shannon Hardy. Photo by Ian Selig/The Coast

Meet Atlantic Canada’s abortion doula

For those seeking abortions in the region, Shannon Hardy is there to guide them through the process

By Angela Mombourquette

Shannon Hardy is a Halifax social worker who volunteers as an abortion doula. She runs Abortion Support Services Atlantic (formerly Maritime Abortion Support Services or MASS), which offers information, transportation and support for people seeking abortions in Atlantic Canada. The following interview has been edited and condensed.

How did you become an abortion doula in the first place?

It was by accident. I didn’t seek it out. I was the workshop co-ordinator at [Halifax sex shop and bookstore] Venus Envy, so political and reproductive stuff would come across my desk a lot. P.E.I. at that time did not have abortion access. How was that a thing? So I looked it up, and sure enough, there was nothing on the Island.   

I like to do really pragmatic and useful things, so I wasn’t going to petition the government to change its mind. I just set up MASS, because I had this amazing group of radical feminist and queer friends. I was like, “This is what we are doing. We’re going to offer rides [for women travelling from P.E.I. to Halifax for abortions].”

How did you know there was a need for transportation?

I totally didn’t. I was reading the stories and I thought, “How are people affording to get here? How are people figuring out babysitting? How are people getting time off work?” All of these intersectional things, which as a feminist have always been important to me, and so the one piece I could help with was the transportation.

How does this work relate to being a doula?

I’ve been a birth doula since 2006. Reproductive freedoms and sexual rights are just really, really important to me. So abortion was kind of a continuation of my work.

Being with people who are giving birth is sacred. But to think somebody would be [giving birth] who didn’t want to be — it was just heartbreaking. I couldn’t even wrap my head around it.

What part of the definition of “doula” applies in this case?

“Doula” means a servant. It’s a Greek word. It just means someone to be with you through the process. And it can be any process. There are death doulas. You are there as a support person. It’s unconditional positive regard, where it doesn’t matter to me who you are outside of this situation. It doesn’t matter what you’re here for or why you are seeking to have an abortion. None of that matters to me. My only goal as an abortion doula is to create a space for you to just be.

This story originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of The Observer with the title "Atlantic Canada’s abortion doula." 

To read more of The United Church Observer's award-winning content, subscribe to the magazine today. 

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!


(Photo: cuatrok77/Flickr via Creative Commons)

Cormorants aren't the devil

by Douglas Hunter

Ontario's proposed new measures amount to a slaughter of an entire native bird species for no scientifically compelling reason, says this writer

Promotional Image


The United Church Observer's editor and publisher, Jocelyn Bell. (Photo: Lindsay Palmer)

The new name of 'The Observer' revealed!

by Jocelyn Bell

"United Church" will no longer be on the cover, but our commitment to sharing denominational news and perspectives remains the same

Promotional Image


Meet beloved church cats Mable and Mouse

by Observer Staff

They're a fixture of Kirk United Church Centre in Edmonton.

Promotional Image


February 2019

Marriage problems: Is the ancient tradition worth saving?

by Pieta Woolley

Bitterness and boredom seem to define many mid-life marriages, but we might not have to settle for apathy ever after


February 2019

A Yukon artist and a Tlingit trapper create this stunning jewelry

by Amy van den Berg

The fur jewelry in Whitehorse boutique store V. Ægirsdóttir is creating a new possibility for future partnerships with the region's trappers


February 2019

Why white people need to stop asking, 'where are you from?'

by Mike Sholars

"...For all intents and purposes, Canada is the only home I really recognize or remember. But none of that matters if I look like I don’t belong, and that single question makes that abundantly clear every single time."

Promotional Image