The Abortion Caravan : When Women Shut Down Government in the Battle for the Right to Choose

By Karin Wells

A Feminist History Society Book Series

$24.95 Sale Save

"One irresistible story from the journey towards women owning their own bodies." - Gloria Steinem

In the spring of 1970, seventeen women set out from Vancouver in a big yellow convertible, a Volkswagen bus, and a pickup truck. They called it the Abortion Caravan. Three thousand miles later, they “occupied” the prime minister’s front lawn in Ottawa, led a rally of 500 women on Parliament Hill, chained themselves to their chairs in the visitors’ galleries, and shut down the House of Commons, the first and only time this had ever happened. The seventeen were a motley crew. They argued, they were loud, and they wouldn't take no for an answer. They pulled off a national campaign in an era when there was no social media, and with a budget that didn't stretch to long-distance phone calls. It changed their lives. And at a time when thousands of women in Canada were dying from back street abortions, it pulled women together across the country.

Praise & Recognition

"It is easy to underestimate the significance of the Abortion Caravan. ... But Wells’s powerful book affirms that such ongoing obstacles to women’s autonomy and reproductive rights are why the Abortion Caravan matters more than ever."

Quill & Quire

"Canadian Authors Pick Their Favourite Books: 'Wells’s descriptions of political action in the days before social media and #MeToo are at times witty and always fascinating'-Charlotte Gray."

The Walrus
"The Abortion Caravan is an excellent account that is a gripping read and a fascinating analysis of women’s politicization. There is a lot of detail in Wells’ book, all of it told in her chatty radio voice." Canada's History
I will say that I was – and remain – a feminist, and that I supported the struggle for legalized abortion. I was part of the Thunder Bay group that greeted the Caravaners, and I did play a small, ignominious part in that event. Because of that, Karin Wells interviewed me for this book and included a photo taken at the time. (Oh, to be 20 again and enjoy photos of yourself.) But I’m not going to go into futher details about that. If you’re interested, buy the book. (Actually, even if you’re not, buy the book: it’s a part of our history and should be required reading in schools.) Margie Taylor
A few years ago I researched the Abortion Caravan and found it difficult to locate much verifiable information. It isn’t a well-known event, but this book will change that. Karin Wells’ The Abortion Caravan will be essential reading for all Canadian women. It will teach them, or remind them, of how hard women in the past worked to overcome barriers. It is a reminder that complacency is not an option — and that we still have a long way to go. The British Columbia Review
Wells’s narration is suffused with humor, detailing the events and personalities with warmth. She excels in bringing out the multilayered voices of these lively, brave women, who fought hard to make their voices heard. Library Journal

Ontario Historical Society Award's Alison Prentice Award 2021 - Winner

Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing 2021 - Short-listed


Publication Date: April 21, 2020

Genre: Adult Nonfiction

Product Format: Paperback

Pages: 392

ISBN: 978-1-77260-125-1

Weight: 540

Karin Wells

About the Author

Karin Wells

Karin Wells grew up in BC and now lives in southern Ontario. She is best known as a CBC radio documentary maker and is a three time recipient of the Canadian Association of Journalists documentary award. Her work has been heard on radio networks around the world and has been recognized by the United Nations. Wells worked – briefly – as a line worker in a pea factory, a school teacher, and an actor. She is also a lawyer and in 2011 was inducted into the University of Ottawa’s Common Law Honour Society.

Wells has documented the lives of influential (but often overlooked) Canadian women in her books: The Abortion Caravan: When women shut down government in the battle for the right to choose (finalist for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and winner of the Ontario Historical Society's Alison Prentice Award), More Than a Footnote: Canadian women you should know and the forthcoming Women Who Woke Up the Law.

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