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In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada decriminalized abortion in R. v. Morgentaler. Almost immediately thereafter, the Maritime province of Prince Edward Island ("P.E.I.") passed a legislative resolution opposing the provision of abortion services on the Island except to save the life of a pregnant woman. P.E.I. is a small pastoral province of rolling hills and ocean coves in the St. Lawrence Gulf, and since 1988, through various regulatory actions, its government has honored this policy promise to keep the Island abortion-free and to preserve its moral landscape.

The same year that abortion was banished from P.E.I., Prince Edward Islanders also voted "yes" to the building of the Confederation Bridge, which would join the Island to mainland Canada and make travel between them "easy and convenient." Opened on May 31, 1997, the Confederation Bridge is an amazing sight. Curved and eight miles long, the bridge is one of the greatest engineering feats of the twentieth century, the longest crossing over ice-covered water in the world. In its steel and concrete structure, durable and reinforcing, the bridge reflects the ingenuity of its engineers, who built a shield on the pier shafts to lift and break the ice flow under its own weight, and who built the bridge high enough to allow cruise ships to pass. The story of the bridge, however, is not a single story. More than steel and concrete, the bridge represents a historical problem and a vision of a solution to that problem, that is, the need for an easy and reliable crossing over a treacherous body of water. The bridge also captures more than a century of public controversy. The plebiscite vote to build the bridge followed a heated debate in which farmers, fishers, and other Islanders divided on how access to the mainland would affect their way of life. The bridge challenged Islanders' sense of themselves, their past and future collective identity.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.