P.E.I. focus of national abortion rally

Teresa Wright
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Jane Ledwell, National Coalition of Advisory Councils on the Status of Women, speaks as Bronwym Rodd, left, PRRO, and Ann Wheatly, ARN looks on.

Charlottetown will host a flagship rally for a national reproductive justice action day today as organizers try to shine a light on the province’s continued lack of abortion services.

An ad hoc coalition of women’s groups and labour organizations have joined with the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) to hold a pan-Canadian day of action in cities across the country.

Prince Edward Island was chosen as the focus for this event due to it being the only province in Canada that still does not offer any abortion services.

Joyce Arthur, executive director of ARCC, pointed out that it has been 25 years since the Supreme Court ruling that struck down a previous law prohibiting abortions in Canada. Yet the procedure is still not available in Island hospitals or clinics.

“Even the three territories provide this service,” Arthur said.

“It’s time for this situation to end. There’s just no excuse anymore. All Canadian women deserve equitable access to this medically required service.”

She called it a travesty that P.E.I. women must travel out of province for abortions and they must pay for abortions at the closest clinic in Fredericton.

The provincial government does cover the cost of the procedure off-Island, but only when done in a hospital and if a woman has been referred by a doctor. The closest hospital that performs the service is the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Halifax.

The province will not put any money towards abortions performed at private clinics, like the Mogentaler clinic in Fredericton.

Fees at private clinics, where a doctor’s referral is not needed, range from $600 to $900.

The province also does not fund travel or other incidentals associated with travelling out-of-province for this procedure.

Bronwyn Rodd is with the P.E.I. Reproductive Right Organization (PRRO), a group of young women that mobilized a year ago and began publicly pushing for the provincial government to change its abortion policies.

But even after the province’s lack of abortion services garnered the national media spotlight, Premier Robert Ghiz said the ‘status quo’ of not offering this service would remain.

Rodd said Friday her group will continue its lobby until the procedure is made available in P.E.I.

“The government’s position is untenable,” Rodd said.

“Enough is enough with the culture of silence and shame around abortions on P.E.I., enough is enough with the political hypocrisy that allows the current status quo to stand and enough is enough with sacrificing the health of Island women and girls, especially the poor and vulnerable.”

UPEI professor Dr. Colleen MacQuarrie, who is currently conducting a research project on the health impacts of abortion policies in P.E.I., says she has heard many sad and often harrowing stories from Island women who have turned to desperate measures when faced with unwanted pregnancies.

One 14-year-old girl spent two weeks inflicting terrible atrocities on her body in an effort self-induce an abortion, including drinking chemicals and having her boyfriend punch her repeatedly in the stomach.

MacQuarrie chocked back tears as she told this girl’s story.

“If you limit options people get desperate, and desperate people do things they might not ordinarily do,” she said.

“The level of harm is not distributed equally among women. The most vulnerable and the most marginalized women have suffered the most from lack of local access.”

Supporters of the pro-choice rally Saturday will march to Province House, leaving from Rochford Square at 1 p.m.

The province pays for about 60 to 70 abortions a year at the Halifax hospital, according to data the health department provided last year. Another 70 to 80 P.E.I. women also seek abortions at the private clinic in Fredericton each year, according to an official at the clinic.

Organizations: Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Supreme Court, P.E.I. Reproductive Right Organization Province House Halifax hospital

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, P.E.I., Canada Charlottetown Fredericton.The Fredericton.Fees Fredericton

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Recent comments

  • Nancy
    October 23, 2012 - 17:40

    PEI does not need this. How much longer will the rest of the country continue to destroy the life of it's future. These are children that are being destroyed because of selfishness. If you don't want to get pregnant then don't have sex and you will be just fine. Sex was and is for the procreation of children, NOT recreation! I love the fact that PEI is abortion free, and I object to my tax dollars being used to kill babies.

  • myeyes
    October 22, 2012 - 18:11

    I am from PEI. I had an abortion when I was in high school. Just so you all know.. Yes, it was hard to get the money. Yes, it was hard to get the drive. Yes, I tried to abort at home because my doctor would not give me information on abortion or a referral. But I found a way. And I would have found a way no matter what. I feel no shame, no guilt, and most certainly no regret. I hope that other PEI girls/women seeking an abortion will soon have some of the stress of that decision removed from them by either: 1- the province paying for clinic procedures, 2-the province paying for all Halifax hospital abortions without a referral being necessary, or 3- to have abortion services provided on PEI.

  • say it like it is
    October 22, 2012 - 17:56

    "in fact most Islanders are against abortion". This is interesting. If "most Islanders" were morally opposed to blood transfusions, would we not allow any Islander to access a blood transfusion in the province? The point is, I don't know what "most" Islanders were raised to believe in. I know that "most" women in this country have access to obtain an abortion if they want one, but not the women on this island. Why? It is purely about the people who, like you, feel they have a right to restrict other people's access to a medical procedure because they are personally opposed to it. And Bill, you are weakening your argument with each mention of 'god', 'christian','religion', and 'holy spirit'. You must realize that you are saying that our laws and rights should follow your (christian) religion's ideals.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    October 21, 2012 - 10:22

    The first sentence of this story has me baffled because the City of Charlottetown is NOT hosting this rally. While it may be happening in Charlottetown most of Charlottetown residents along with most of the residents of the Island do not condone it. This story leads someone to believe that most Islanders or Charlottetown residents are in favor of abortion by hosting this event when in fact most Islanders are against abortion. This group should start taking a pulse of the current feelings of young people these days, most of which are taking a non abortion stance.

    • Laura
      October 22, 2012 - 11:36

      The fact is, public opinion on abortion is completely irrelevant since it is a legal right. People who do not agree with abortion need not get one, but all women in Canada have a right to it if they feel it is the best decision for them.

  • Abort them all
    October 21, 2012 - 02:53

    Hey, if you don't want babies, don't put it in. Or live life. Or do anything that the bible doesn't say is kosher. I don't believe in what you believe in so you can't do it, Don't do what my made up god doesn't believe in or else you'll pay. Morons.

  • rural citizen
    October 20, 2012 - 18:57

    The government led the way in making our province anti-choice, allowed religion into the legislature, the hospitals, the education system, etc. We live in a secular society and it shouldn't matter what various belief systems might say, my rights under the Canadian Charter should be protected and up held by my government. The PEI government should ensure access to this basic health service. It is a red herring to compare this 10 minute procedure to heart surgery.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 21, 2012 - 11:11

      Sounds like you have no spirituality. This country was founded on the very religious beliefs you now hold in contempt. Of course we will allow our religious or spiritual beliefs to influence our decisions. What influences yours, common sense or commerce sense? I am betting on the latter.

  • johnthames
    October 20, 2012 - 17:55

    To all those opposed to women's right to their own reproductive health, I am very sorry but it is the law and if the backward Mr. Ghiz insists on controlling women's reproductive health he will learn is breaking the law when he has his day in court. Stop waiting for the courts to move your hand Ghiz (so you can say you were forced to obey the law) and stand up for the law now, period. Disgraceful.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 21, 2012 - 11:04

      Yes the law is the problem. We must change the law.

      October 21, 2012 - 13:35

      Nobody has to obey an unjust law. The law is flawed to the extreme when it comes to human rights.

  • ThatsTheWay
    October 20, 2012 - 15:27

    If you think Mr. Ghiz is going to step up and do ANYTHING on this one, you're sadly mistaken. He doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to face the people on reconstructing a highway. You think he's going to face anyone on the abortion issue?

  • SG
    October 20, 2012 - 14:19

    To: Protect The Children: (PEI is the only province that is on track here.) I disagree. in my view PEI was the last Province in Canada to get on track! Would those who are against Abortion prefer to put Babies up for Adoption? In many Adoption Agencies across Canada these babies do not find Adoptive Parents. Why? Due to the long trails of paper work, Adoptive Processes that take sometimes years to reach fruition. The very reason many Canadians wishing to adopt do so through Foreign Countries due to expediency in the process. If I found myself in this circumstance I would feel much better knowing that my child had a chance to be adopted by a loving family vs. being in an Adoption Centre for maybe years! On the Abortion side of this issue I feel it is a woman's right. IMO I do not feel anyone should have the right over another's person's life choices be it Critical Illness, the right to die peacefully or Abortion.Yes there are methods available today to avoid pregnancy but they are not 100% fool proof. Mistakes happen as no one on this earth is perfect not even the Companies producing fail proof contraceptives. Birth Control pills can fail if a woman happens to be taking antibiotics. How many women are aware of that fact?

    • come from away
      October 20, 2012 - 16:36

      They also do not work if you are taking antihistamines...........!

      October 20, 2012 - 18:02

      The sure way to prevent pregnancy is ABSTENANCE, ever think of that?

  • Eyes open but can't see
    October 20, 2012 - 14:13

    100,000 abortions take place every year in Canada, and this group wants more. This is the greatest injustice in our country, we must protect the most helpless. For the UPEI professor to say killing a baby is the only solution to a 14 year inflicting harm on herself is sick, the person needs love and compassion not the destruction of another human. What happened to equal rights, that means the rights of the unborn, over 5,000 abortions performed in Canada were on women in their 30s, 20% of all abortions were people who had abortions before, finally 3,000 abortions were on babies over 20 weeks old. When an unplanned pregnancy happens it is very difficult, it is a time to care and not exercise judgment on an already overwhelmed mother, abortion is denial of what is happening within the woman's body, another person is sharing the space for a few months, is it difficult yes, but must we make the space a safe as possible, yes also. I admire the people who fight for abortions because in their flawed sense of values they want to do the right thing, but you can never create compassion through destruction. When a person does have an abortion however we have to show compassion and love.

  • exit poll
    October 20, 2012 - 14:12

    'Ledwell' synonymous with women's rights: neither in utero nor extra utero! Since 1988, Canada, on par with China, has no "law" to protect the the most fundamental right of all rights, the right to life; hence, the current female gender selective infanticide, again on par with China, India...occurring in certain Canadian cities. Are these ladies protesting that??

  • embarrased
    October 20, 2012 - 13:38

    Not being from" here " meaning I am from "away", a moniker from the 19th century, and watching PEI lag 50 years in most respects behind the rest of the civilized world, this province has to move into the 21st century or all that the future holds for this province is more illetaracy and potato farmers. Ghiz is doing nothing but trying to keep his share of the illiterary populace vote by refusing to keep pace with the rest of Canada . If you want to keep your youth from moving away, move this province into the 21st century.

    • Where away?
      October 20, 2012 - 15:52

      It's illiteracy, not illetaracy. And it's embarrassed, not embarrased. Please don't tell those from away that you come from The Island. You are liable to 'embarras' us with your' illetaracy'. Better yet, stay 'away' . PEI is trying to distinguish itself from a nation that agrees with only China and North Korea in its definition of a human being. Islanders are unique. None should be aborted. PEI is the last great province to protect the unborn. PS: What the heck does potato farming have to do with abortion. And please, don't mock farming. You've already proved yourself an infidel 'from away'.

  • closeyourlegs
    October 20, 2012 - 13:28

    Morning After pill, birth control, condoms, abstinence, and medical options...cancer patients don't have the right to medically end thier lives with the assisted suicide, but women should have the right to kill an unborn child..not fetus...cause they can't raise a child, or too young to have a child, or its not the right time in their life, or their scared, or don't want to get stretch marks. Or whatever other pathetic excuse they come up with to help them sleep at nights..I am a mother of two beautiful children and think to myself that all these feminists trying to bring abortions to the island are glamorizing the act of sexual behavior of teens by showing them that they can be cured of their mistake..so go ahead and have fun, cause we promote ending of life although many women are barren and wait years for adoption because they are all being killed before Labour..not birth because the baby does have a heart, unlike the mother who couldn't close her legs.....pei please don't think these people are the voice of all women..i am only 35 years old and am against abortion clinics being paid for the building of its clinics coming out of either the tax payers pokets or the provincial governments who are cutting costs already that affect operations being performed and cutting positions...to the founder of this pro life movement..what if your mother chose to end her pregnancy of you? Sickening to think young adults think that this is a good cause...

    • Not From PEI
      October 20, 2012 - 23:02

      It's because of close-minded views like this that there are so many people needing abortion services. We shame teenagers about the act of sex, so they're ashamed of buying condoms, or getting birth control. We need to educate more people on safe sex practices and make contraception easier to obtain. But even then, sometimes contraception fails. Should a 15 year old girl be forced to have a child because the condom slipped because she was never educated on how to properly use one? Should any woman who has been raped be forced to have a child because of something that was done to her? No one is killing a child. A few cells does not equal a human being. All that the women of PEI are asking for are their civil rights in a country where abortion is a legal option for an unwanted pregnancy. Whether or not you agree with it morally or ethically is not the issue.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 21, 2012 - 10:59

      You are absolutely right. When people make bad choices in our society it is they that have to shoulder the responsibility for it. Other provinces pay for and condone these abortion services based solely on a financial basis. It is cheaper to perform the abortion than to support the mother and her unborn child on financial assistance, but this is wrong. As a society in which we want our unborn to come to term, we should never complain about those associated costs to society.

    • Please
      October 22, 2012 - 08:25

      The "what if your mother aborted you" argument is getting old. I wouldn't care if my mother aborted me since I wouldn't exist therefore there would be no problem. Good for you, CHOOSING to have children. Don't impose your own beliefs/choices on everybody else.

  • Tom Jacobs
    October 20, 2012 - 12:49

    This has nothing to do with what you believe in and when you think life starts. This is about making sure women on PEI have the same rights as women in every other province in Canada. Abortion is legal in this country. It doesn't matter what you believe. To withhold this service from Island women is to deny them equality, and it perpetuates our status as a have-not province. The days of the old boys club controlling woman should have ended a long time ago. And for the record, PRRO is not a group of 'young women' but rather a group of 'people'; women and men.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 21, 2012 - 10:53

      I disagree Tom. This has everything to do with when does life start. The rest of Canada has it wrong. CONSENSUS doesn't mean it is right. We must change the rest of Canada to our way, not the other way around. It has nothing to do with the old boy's club controlling women, because I dislike the old boys club too. Crony politics has to sop, but I am not going to throw the baby out with the bath water.

  • pay their travel
    October 20, 2012 - 12:36

    So the PEI Medical Society's members don't want to engender controversy by practising abortion here. This forces Island women to travel to the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax, provided they have a PEI doctor's approval, or to the private Mortgentaler Clinic in Fredericton where they pay close to $1000. If Robert Ghiz isn't willing to fund the practise in PEI, then they should remove the doctor consultation requirement and just allow women to go straight to the VG in Halifax where it is covered under Medicare. That means that Robert Ghiz will have to establish a PEI Govt standard travel package for women seeking an abortion. This would consist of a ferry pass of $71.00 or a bridge pass of $44.50 plus gas cards for about $100 (or a return bus pass & taxi from bus station to the VG), plus they'll likely have to offer accommodation at a hotel near the VG (the closest being the Lord Nelson) plus meals at the out of province travel rate for deputy ministers and cabinet ministers. Plus ca change monsieur premier ministre Ghiz? You really like to control your women folk, just like the old Island way....

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 21, 2012 - 10:46

      I do not think that the government should have to pay for elective surgery. Period. If it is not contravening the health of the individual then government should not have to pay for the consequences of poor choices being made.

  • Mell
    October 20, 2012 - 12:16

    Abortion is a very delicate subject and I have my own opinion which I will not share. However, my concerns are with the health deficiency on PEI in general. People have to leave the island, and pay out of pocket each time on the bridge, etc,for going off island for so many life threatening issues and tests. PEI has such a shortage of doctors and health testing facilities that it is a joke to be a province of Canada, where Confederation all began!

    • jeremy
      October 20, 2012 - 16:16

      We'd be better off as a regional municipality under Nova Scotia and have access to NS health care. Just close the PEI legislature down and shut Charlottetown down as a provincial capital. That would deflate the corrupt little oligarchy and sense of entitlement that exists among PEI business people, political leaders and lawyers, accountants, etc. I'd like to see Charlottetown be just one of about 400 little rural hamlets around this island and see the population in total drop to around 80,000 - 100,000 which is a more sustainable level for our groundwater, etc.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 21, 2012 - 10:39

      Jeremy, you are wrong. You want to give up the rights this province has struggled to keep, you would give up our independence just so you or someone close to you can FEEL better about the choices you have made. Sorry big guy, over my dead body

  • Concerned
    October 20, 2012 - 11:14

    I am happy to live on PEI where abortions are not performed. My best friend just suffered a miscarriage and was told by doctors her baby stopped growing and died when she was 6 weeks pregnant. For anyone who says life begins at birth....to my knowledge ,if something dies it had to be living to begin with...life begins at conception!

  • What
    October 20, 2012 - 11:01

    There are islander who have to go off island to get some treatments? Holy Cow!!!! Does anyone else know this? We don't want to be behind the territories, who can get all medical services conceivable within their borders. Evgeryone who has ever had to leave PEI for anything, whatsoever, needs to rally to get the government to spend more money. Raise taxes if needed. We can't have anyone leave PEI for medical treatment. Then we need to pass legislation saying that any doctor that doesn't perform these treatment is to lose their legal abity to practice medicine and get charged with a hate crime.

  • You do not speak for all women
    October 20, 2012 - 10:39

    If one believes that ALL persons are equal, then why would a woman's right be of greater value that of an unborn child? It is only by declaring that child is not actually a child that we can excuse it. Dogs produce dogs, cats produce cats, horses produce horses....why is it that we don't automatically think that humans produce humans? Extreme examples in the above story are just that, EXTREME. How many people out of 1,000 for example, would drink chemicals and ask someone to physically abuse them? There are MANY procedures that are not done on PEI. Are my basic rights violated because I have to travel to St. John for open heart surgery? I am not denied the surgery, and I can claim the expenses on my tax form. Hmmm.

    • Information, Learn it
      October 20, 2012 - 18:26

      1. Educate yourself. The equipment and staff to perform abortions are ALREADY HERE, and the PRRO women have been making that point for months (which is why I am telling you to inform yourself -- this information is widely available). The dilation and curettage procedure -- one method of terminating a pregnancy -- is already performed here for other purposes (incomplete miscarriages, other uterine issues). THAT is the difference between abortions not being performed here and open heart surgery not being performed here. It is a political matter, NOT a financial matter. It is arbitrary and discriminatory. 2. Even if we do accept that a fertilized egg is a "human being" in the same way that a sentient person is, human beings do not have the right to compel another human being to donate organ(s), blood, etc., to them, even if their survival depends on it. Giving a fetus this "right" would be an act of giving them and their "rights" greater value than the woman whose body they rely on for survival. Forcing a woman to donate her body so that a fertilized egg can develop into a fetus within her uterus for nine months, using her blood, nutrition, her body for survival -- THAT is a violation of her human rights. So -- you have it backwards. Try again.

  • islandeur
    October 20, 2012 - 10:27

    I find it ironic that at one rally in Charlottetown, they are vehemently defending the rights of the hemlock trees, and the next day in another rally, they're promoting the cutting down of our unborn citizens.

    October 20, 2012 - 10:20

    There are other ways to avoid having unwanted pregnancies, ways that are not cruelizing innocent and helpless infants. Just think about it, think! How would you like to be that infant being slaughtered in the womb of your mother? Ms. Ledwell, you should know better.

    • what a bigot
      October 20, 2012 - 12:48

      I don't support violating rights, but your rights are not automatically more important simply because you are a woman.

    • Need some compassion here
      October 20, 2012 - 14:11

      I am pro-choice. It's not a decision I would make for myself, but that's my option. I thank Ms. Ledwell for advocating on behalf of those who (for any number of difficult reasons) are forced to make what must be a very painful decision.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 21, 2012 - 10:33

      What a biggot, if you are so into rights, then what about the rights of the unborn child? You want us to enforce your rights but trample on the rights of the unborn child. It is sickening and grieves the Holy Spirit.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 21, 2012 - 10:34

      What a biggot, if you are so into rights, then what about the rights of the unborn child? You want us to enforce your rights but trample on the rights of the unborn child. It is sickening and grieves the Holy Spirit.

  • Kevin K
    October 20, 2012 - 09:42

    Why do Islanders except medical care that is vastly inferior to the rest of Canada. This issue is not about whether you agree with abortion. Certainly no one is suggesting a woman be forced to have an abortion. However this is a medical service provided by virtually every civilized society. Ghiz once again demonstrates an inability to act as a leader which explains the multiplying mistakes this scandal plagued Government has created. Time to move away from treating womens" health as a right-wing sexist football.

  • Kevin K
    October 20, 2012 - 09:32

    What's with women in PEI accepting this? Women in PEI deserve equal rights not some type of right-wing backwater politics. I must hand it to Ghiz, he is consistent. Trouble is he is consisitently wrong on every issue. Certainly not up up to leading the Province into the future. The issue is not whether you agree on abortion but the fact that PEI treats women with inferior access to a medical procedure available to the rest of Canada. It is way overdue for Islanders to put a stop to this now!

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 21, 2012 - 10:29

      Kevin K you are just plain wrong. The issue is that the rest of Canada is wrong. This is the only issue Ghiz has been right on. We as Islanders must take this stand against the rest of Canada. It is just too bad that we don't take a stand on many more issues this federal government has forced on its citizens. We Christians must stand up for the righteousness of Jesus Christ as we all know in our hearts the difference between right and wrong, you just choose to do wrong.

  • PEIMom
    October 20, 2012 - 09:07

    Doug Currie's so called 'comprimise' is a real misdicret. What is this comprimise exactly? Comprimise of money? Comprimise of resources? No, it's a comprimise between rights and beliefs. He's acknowledging, that on PEI, in the year 2012 those in power are still bowing to the notion that beliefs are just as important as rights. And let's not forget to point out that abortion is a medical procedure that men will never has to access, and so ... not surprising that the MEN in power who obviously have no insight into this issue, do not champion the rights of the women who would need this access. Time for change folks. This gov't has gone off the rails in so many ways it is time for a revolution on PEI. See you at the Rally!

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 21, 2012 - 10:08

      This is not a male vs female argument. It is one of religious, moral, and character values of which you seem to be lacking. I am sorry that you have been hurt by men but that does not mean that you in turn can hurt someone else such as an unborn child.

  • Protect the children
    October 20, 2012 - 09:01

    Save the seals. Save the whales.Protect our forests. But increase abortions? Abortion is wrong. Plain and simple. PEI is the only province that is on track here. Let's just hope to stay the course until the rest of the country gives its head a shake and realizes the rights of every human being. Yes, that is right. A pregnant woman is carrying a 'human being' inside her, regardless of what our government's definition of a human being is. And every human being needs to be protected from our self, self-centred $ obesessed society.Let's face it; most MLAs lied about Motion 312 .Time for the Mother Bears to stand up and protect the cubs!

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 21, 2012 - 10:14

      You are absolutely right. The value of human life is at an all time low. Society as a collective is wrong on most things these days. It has become a selfish society only wanting to satisfy its lust for stuff and self gratification. So of course society as a whole cannot see the folly in its laws and other things that have become socially acceptable now but never used to be.

  • I love God AND women
    October 20, 2012 - 08:39

    Yes, enough IS enough! Our government would rather hurt the health of marginalized women than affect their political diplomacy. Sickening

  • tim tonkin
    October 20, 2012 - 08:27

    Do none of these tragic stories occur where abortion is easy to access? Are there no babies thrown in dumpsters or left in hallways in cities where abortion is available ? I think so, they make the news on a regular bases .