Defending women’s rights comes as naturally as defending her dinner from her four cats.
Kathryn LaRoche graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology last summer. In her first year at the University of Ottawa, LaRoche accompanied her German major with women’s studies. Learning about issues women face, their rights and abilities just seemed to click.
While completing her master’s degree in health sciences, LaRoche also performs research on the psychology of abortions, or the Ontario Abortion Study (OAS). LaRoche’s study offers women a chance to talk about their experiences.
“Women just want to talk about it,” LaRoche said. “There is still a stigma. Women can’t talk to their friends or families about their abortions.”
LaRoche explains that despite progress for women’s rights and birth rights, women can’t openly talk about their experiences relating to abortion because it is such a touchy subject. While collecting data, LaRoche spends time just letting women express themselves. By talking about it, it opens doors to understanding the psychological effect.
Ontario has limited post-abortion resources which is something that LaRoche is working to improve. She also explained to Glue magazine that despite the seemingly open invitation from post-abortion groups, they may be filled with pressure from pro-life groups. This kind of pressure could affect the way women process their experiences after the fact.
Canada is one of few nations with no legal limitations on abortions. However, accessibility and restrictions vary from province to province.
LaRoche’s research will benefit women regardless of their stance on the hot topic issue. Providing access to pre and post-abortion support will enable women to make informative and educated decisions about their bodies. “It is really about whether or not we trust women,” said LaRoche.
LaRoches’ thesis project is being developed with the help of University of Ottawa faculty member Dr. Angel Foster, associate professor in the faculty of health sciences with a special interest in reproductive health.
LaRoche has been working alongside Dr. Foster for two years while completing her post-secondary education. In the coming years, LaRoche plans to travel south of the border to complete a doctorate and investigate the impacts of abortion on women’s mental and physical health.
Abortion is a very difficult topic with large social ramifications. Women are still struggling to be respected by too many men, especially men in positions of power. The self-image of so many women is poor and they sometimes don’t even have a clue on how to change that. There is a lot of work to do and certainly supporting women post abortion is important. Group discussions might be interesting and helpful for these women. Knowing they are not alone makes a big difference and can help empower them to take better care of themselves first and foremost.