Closure of abortion clinic dismays P.E.I. women’s advocacy group

Jim Day
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Dr. Henry Morgentaler led the campaign for the legalization of abortion. On Thursday, it was announced his only Maritime clinic in Fredericton, New Brunswick was being closed.

P.E.I. women will face greater difficulty receiving safe and timely abortions after the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton closes, says a local women’s advocacy group.

The clinic announced it is closing in the summer after 20 years of providing abortions in the city because it is losing money.

Approximately 10 percent of abortions provided at the clinic were for women from Prince Edward Island. That works out to 60 to 70 women each year, according to a staff person at the clinic.

The P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women is concerned that after the closure of the clinic only one option will remain open for P.E.I. women seeking a surgical abortion: to travel to the QEII in Halifax.

The process of getting a termination of pregnancy in Halifax still requires a referral from two doctors in P.E.I. and preparatory ultrasounds here as well. The province pays for the procedure itself but does not cover any travel or accommodation costs.

At the private clinic now scheduled to close in N.B., all costs are paid by the women who use their services, although the clinic has always committed to provide services regardless of a woman’s ability to pay. The Advisory Council noted many Island women have accessed their subsidies.

Over the years, half of P.E.I. women seeking abortions have used the services of the private clinic in Fredericton - the only private option in the Maritime provinces.

“It remains to be seen how long it will be financially tenable for the Prince Edward Island government and health-care system to block access to his medically simple and straightforward procedure,’’ says Jane Ledwell, executive director of the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

“Blocking local access is bad from a moral, medical, and financial perspective, and all the more so with the closure of the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton.’’

Collen MacQuarrie, a UPEI psychology professor who has conducted research on the effects of the lack of abortion services for Island women, has spoke strongly the past couple years on the harm resulting from P.E.I. not providing traditional surgical abortions in-province.

She says many P.E.I. women endure great harm from a policy that forces them to leave the Island to have a safe, surgical abortion.

MacQuarrie has heard from a number of women who self-induced abortion in P.E.I. She said some did damage to their bodies where they can no longer carry a pregnancy. Some were bruised so badly, they stayed away from school. Others became quite ill.

“Suicide has been considered by some,’’ she told The Guardian in an interview in October.

“When you limit options, it breeds desperation.’’

Prince Edward Island is the only province in the country that does not provide any abortion services within the province.

P.E.I. Health Minister Doug Currie says nothing will change with P.E.I.’s abortion policies, despite the fact the only private clinic in the Fredericton will soon close.

“We, as a government, fund abortions though our P.E.I. medicare system but they have to be performed not in private clinics, but in hospitals,” Currie said.

He added Health P.E.I. would have conversations with the Medical Society of P.E.I. to ensure doctors inform Island women about their options.

“We will continue to support abortion services… but that service, like a range of services, will continue to be performed outside the province.”

Opposition Leader Steven Myers said he is more focused on other health services and needs not being met by the province.

“I’m trying to keep my head wrapped around how do we get doctors in the province and how do we get people in to get their knee operated on… there’s many, many issues with health care and I guess if I was going to prioritize them today those ones that I’ve talked about today would be very high up on my list,” Myers said.


With files from Teresa Wright

Organizations: Morgentaler Clinic, P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women, The Guardian Medical Society of P.E.I.

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Fredericton, Halifax Maritime

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Recent comments

  • Christopher Hitchens
    April 16, 2014 - 17:30

    The last vestiges of religious control over freethinking humans will occur in seniors homes as the last of the them die off and the new generations of young people will be able to live lives free from its destructive dogma . They cannot control information and keep youth in the dark ages any longer and the human race will not be held back . No stone age superstition has a future. Especially to exert its childish control over women .

    • To Hitch
      April 17, 2014 - 18:38

      Clearly you can form your own well informed opinions. The fact that there are more christians and fewer atheists worldwide than in the past, should not figure into your quote mining at all.

  • Christopher Hitchens
    April 15, 2014 - 23:12

    Who would ever care about the christian view on this . Christianity is false and immoral . Vicarious redemption through the torture and punishment of another (insert Jesus) is a totally immoral concept . Women are taking back their future in this age of information . The church through politics never had the right to abuse and control women in this way .

    • Good lord
      April 16, 2014 - 07:10

      1- Perhaps because there are more of us than there is of you. That, itself, does not make it true but does mean that you would have to be rather dim not to care about our position when it comes to public policy. 2- Unless you can show me an objective source of morality in your worldview (and if you say you, then you don't know what objective means), making a blanket statement that Christians central point is immoral is no more meaningful to anyone than saying that you don't like fish. 3-In this age of information, it is often fought to have people not see video or pictures of an abortion, even while claiming there is nothing wrong with it. Ironic that information is being hidden in this age of information. 4- you are not presenting an argument. You are just typing random thoughts of a dead author that discovered that he could make a lot more money getting paid to publicly rant than his regular writing. 5- I am tempted to put you in the category of atheist fundamentalist and assume that you care more about bashing Christians than you do about the rights of women looking for abortion. If so, do you think it appropriate to use them as pawns to inflate the importance of your minority religious view? You do realize that you are not the majority view just because you see more Youtube videos, right?

    • To Hitch
      April 16, 2014 - 07:11

      Another EPIC FAIL

  • pro-choice islander
    April 15, 2014 - 17:25

    Most of the anti-abortion posts on this forum appear to be from non-Islanders. Likely religious fundamentalists, given the way they keep quoting stuff, and they are likely either Americans or from Ontario or the prairie provinces. Let me make this abundantly clear to you. A fetus is not a person. It is a collection of cells that is part of a woman's body until it is born. She and she alone gets to make decisions about her body. You do not. The courts have ruled on this and despite the obvious contradiction with your personal morals or religious beliefs, you have no say on the matter. The PEI government must govern for all Islanders and comply with the laws and policies of Canada. Canada has ruled that abortion is legal and access to it must be provided. The PEI government is getting around the last part by paying for it, but not providing it directly - PEI women have to go to a hospital in another province. This is wrong. PEI used to offer abortions in the 1970s. It will again in the future. You will not be able to stop this, so please, go involve yourself in the local community in whatever state or province you live in. Go pick up litter or something useful and stop interfering with a local debate about abortion services in a place you will likely never visit anyway.

    • Pro-Life Islander
      April 15, 2014 - 18:22

      You mean they can't be from PEI because they didn't just insult and call people bigot? There are people who are not pro-abortion and are not religious fundamentalists. I could say all the insults were from American activists, but I don't know that and I'm not going to just lie and make stuff up. I do find it interesting that when the law agrees with people they say it is final, and when it doesn't it must be overturned. Almost as if the law, in itself, is not the ultimate arbitrator of right and wrong. If it was, same sex marriage would still be illegal. It was the law, end of story. Right? Just because something is currently the law does not mean it should be, and does not mean that it will continue to be. If I think there is a need for a change, I have exactly the same right to voice that as loudly as you have.

    • Island Atheist
      April 15, 2014 - 18:56

      I'm sorry. One can support or not support abortion regardless of belief in a god. And a collection of cells? Really, that is a bit misleading. Everybody is just a collection of cells. You are just a collection of cells, with the illusion of personhood. As am I and everyone else reading this. To be specific the law says you are not a "person" until you are fully birthed. This is just a statute. If Harper wanted to, all he has to do is to a statutory amendment to set that bar at any point he wants. It is based on a bunch of politicians making an arbitrary decision, not science. Science seems to think that there is not much difference between the kid two days before it is birthed and two days after. Most people, I think, would frown on killing two days after. Your definition would make it abortion if one toe was still inside, but infanticide two seconds later when the toe was out. Seems a bit silly to me. If I remember, there may be no law, other than the definition of person which at one time did not include women. If I remember, what the court did was strike down an Ontario law saying that an abortion could not be performed without being approved by a medical review panel and said Parliament should rewrite a new law but no one has had the guts to seriously propose one.

  • OK
    April 15, 2014 - 16:18

    OK, anti-choicers, lets get something straight. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT THE STATUS OF THE FETUS IS. If you could prove beyond any doubt that it is a thinking, feeling individual with thoughts and could learn 3 languages in the womb and be born able to deliver a dissertation on PreColumbian MesoAmerican Farming Techniques, it would not matter. All that matters is a woman does not want it, and it has absolutely no standing under Canadian Law. Terminating it is not wrong, according to the courts. They have been absolutely clear, and it is the law of the land that it is in no way wrong to do this. So, there is no reason left to bring out these silly arguments. It is the law, end of story. The United Nations Population Division has told all nations to remove all barriers to abortion. NOT providing abortion is now, by a UN report, considered a form of torture. Access to free abortion is a basic human right, and denying this is no more morally conscionable than human sex trafficking. Stop with this sexual terrorism.

    • Island Atheist
      April 15, 2014 - 19:33

      Did not an attempt to get abortion declared a human right by the security council fail?

  • Christopher Hitchens
    April 14, 2014 - 22:16

    Morality is innate in humans and was co-opted by religion . The New Testament has Saint Paul expressing both fear and contempt for the female birth canal . Religion pushes the idea that women should live in shame almost a scarlet letter of sorts for wanting control of her very own body .

    • To Hitch
      April 15, 2014 - 01:11

      Stating propositions with no evidence, for the purpose of insulting, is not an argument. And it still does not address my response, which was not about religion. The fact that you ignored a response which questioned your premise, and responded with another insult, again reinforces the dichotomy between the pro-life and pro-choice posters and the fact that you probably do not have an argument that would convince anyone who does not already agree with you. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to progress beyond unsupported assertions and slogans. Your posts seem to indicate a complete lack of understanding of the position that you try to refute, leading to attacking a strawman that convinces no one, because no one actually believes the position that your attacking. Again, EPIC FAIL!

    • Good grief
      April 15, 2014 - 07:02

      Why is no one from the pro-choice side stepping in and claiming that these posters do not represent them? Unless they do. Scary thought.

    • OMG
      April 15, 2014 - 11:23

      Are these rural fundies so stupid that they can't get a simple idea through their redneck heads?

  • Christopher Hitchens
    April 14, 2014 - 17:23

    These rural fundamentalists commenting on this story want to keep women in a 13 century state of perpetual child rearing so they can be controlled by men and the church

    • To Hitch
      April 14, 2014 - 18:07

      Why do you assume that all the commenters not screaming BIGOT are rural or fundamentalists? Why do you claim to know why they hold their position? I'm sure if asked, none will agree to that being the reason. Assigning a random reason to make your opponent look bad, and I assume claiming they are liars if they deny it, is not a sign of honesty. Besides, it you really were Christopher Hitchens, you would know that you have committed the Genetic Fallacy where a statement is proclaimed to be wrong by describing (albeit probably using a bold faced lie) how the opinion is arrived at. It is a sign of likely having little background in logic. (ie if Bin Laden had said the atmosphere was mostly Nitrogen, it is not untrue because he is the one who said it. It is true on not regardless of who says it or why they believed it.) If I consider an unborn baby a human, and hold the position that barring endangering the life of another that no human should be killed, how is that 13th century? As a modern person, are you holding that a human can be killed for the sake of convenience, merely because the courts have not explicitly stated that you cannot? This would have made it morally permissible to kill slaves, as they were not protected by law. Is it moral to have killed natives to take their land? I think that is barbaric. Thinking that is barbaric is not an argument that women should be controlled by the church, and I have not stated that my position is based on religion. Now I am aware that you probably have strong feelings on this issue, however it seems relatively obvious to me that during this conversation, the pro-choice advocates are the ones that are doing the name calling and insulting. The pro-life advocates are simply stating their view and doing so mostly civilly. This indicates to me, that other than trying to get people to shut up, you do not have anything on your side that you think would convince anyone to agree with you. As some younger folks would say, EPIC FAIL!

  • andy
    April 14, 2014 - 07:55

    Its funny how pro choice advocates say abortion is a human rights issue and use rape and incest for reasons its needed. Ising it as a form of birth control is disgusting and a black mark on all liberals... and im not a eeligious person, but i feel for defenseless babies.

  • Be honest
    April 14, 2014 - 06:22

    I notice that some of the most vocal advocates of there being nothing wrong with abortion are often the most vocal opponents of people seeing video or pictures of an actual abortion or even just a picture of a fetus. I think this is a good sign of knowing that a public that is fed more than carefully crafted sloganeering propaganda may not support something if they actually see what they are being asked to support, hence avoiding actual discussion and focussing on calling people stupid and bigoted. A good test would be for the Prochoice group to sit down with prolifers and people on the fence, and to watch a video showing actual abortions and explain why people are still just bigots if they see anything that bothers them. If they can publicly do that, I would consider them more credible, if not a bit ghoulish. If they cannot do this, I have to wonder how deeply they have even looked into what abortion actually is, rather than just a cause that makes them feel superior by fighting for a right to do something that they don't want people to know what they are being asked to support. If there is not an issue, prove it to me, don't just call me names. And don't bring out the old violinist story, where it would be immoral to hook someone up to the violinist for 9 months to save their lives, because that is a made up story and isn't remotely applicable. If you use that, I know that you are trying to obfuscate what we are actually talking about.

    • Who cares
      April 14, 2014 - 16:28

      The unborn have no rights, therefore there is no issue killing it. None of the "information" you want to indoctrinate people with matters. The courts have ruled that women have an unquestionable right to kill a fetus no matter what you think it is. Even if a human or person or whatever. The woman matters. It doesn't. End of story. We don't need to be showing propaganda films.

  • support closing clinic
    April 13, 2014 - 20:45

    I support the closure of the abortion clinic. In my opinion, abortion is murder because a fetus is a developing human being. If a person is that inconvenienced by pregnancy, may be they should consider abstinence.

    • Perhaps
      April 14, 2014 - 06:29

      Why are islanders so against basic human rights? Sickening.

    • OMG
      April 14, 2014 - 07:04

      When did the Amish start using computers. Geesh!!!!

  • Perhaps
    April 13, 2014 - 18:16

    Why am I not surprise by all the hate filled bigotted fundamentalists around here.

    • TC
      April 13, 2014 - 19:36

      Take a look at the comments. If you think the pro-life site is the side filled with hate, then I really don't know what to say.

    • OMG
      April 14, 2014 - 07:10

      The hate side is definitely the fundys. Can't they see how they are destroying lives by forcing people to give up basic human rights just so they can feel superior? It is good that soon they will all be gone. Youth are not stupid enough to fall for this stuff.

    • simmer down
      April 15, 2014 - 17:20

      Article 19.- UN Declaration of Human Rights:" Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." Pro-life advocates have a basic human right to be able state their opinions, even if you don't like it. BTW, none of the rights actually say abortion.

  • Perhaps
    April 13, 2014 - 18:14

    Perhaps all the fundys should invest in surrogates to carry the fetuses and adopt them when born. If they want them born, they should take responsibility for them. They won't because they are all hypocrites.

    • Ha ha
      April 14, 2014 - 06:51

      These forums need a like button. This deserves lots of them.

  • Sarah
    April 13, 2014 - 18:02

    Does the baby have a right to choose. When a women becomes pregnant her body is not her own anymore. That is a choice she has made. In the case of rape God can make good come out of everything, if you ask Him. Killing is wrong esp of the innocent. An innocent child has not done wrong to anyone. It has to die because of choices another has made. Really????

  • David Keller
    April 13, 2014 - 14:42

    The killing of unborn babies is murder. According to the Bible. God considers it a serious crime,

    • To David
      April 13, 2014 - 15:14

      God supports relegating women to mere breed stock?

    • Morality
      April 13, 2014 - 15:39

      We don't need your fairytales to tell us the difference between right and wrong. Is the only reason you don't rape, because your fairy-god-father told you not to? You're a psycho-path if that is the case. We can figure out what is right an wrong on our own. PS - Why is there nothing about rape or slavery in the ten commandments? How did ever figure out that we shouldn't do that without the being to commanded not to?

    • TC
      April 13, 2014 - 18:34

      Morality, that is a bit amateurish and silly response. I find it a bit difficult to take that response seriously. If you are not Tyler Costain, or whomever just keeps calling people bigot, then you need to get together and look farther into the pro-life position than pro-abortion and militant atheist web sites. And, yes, the use of the fairy-god-father reference tells me you are just playing on the stupid sky-fairy meme you probably heard in a Richard Dawkins ( a zoologist that others have said make them embarrassed to be an atheists) YouTube video. If you want to be taken seriously, perhaps you should graduate your rhetoric to at least a high school level, and not assume everyone you talk to is in Grade 8. Unless you are in politics, name calling is rarely considered a reasoned argument. In fact, it generally indicates that you know you could not hold your own if asked to back up your thesis.

    • TC
      April 13, 2014 - 18:45

      Morality, while you are thinking of some vile name to call me, perhaps you should look at some of the work of people like Scott Klusendorf have done to describe the Christian view on the issue, rather than relying on tired slogans than make it look like you didn't even think before you typed.

  • business plan
    April 13, 2014 - 13:55

    If the abortion business is slow and profits are down, do what other businesses do: lay off staff, limit service to just a few days a week, downsize the clinic. They won't do this because all of this is publicity stunt to manipulate the government into funding them.

    • To the Bigot
      April 13, 2014 - 15:50

      stop trying to deny women basic human rights.

    • To the Bigot
      April 13, 2014 - 15:50

      stop trying to deny women basic human rights.

    • ok then
      April 13, 2014 - 17:19

      If it is all about money, and it is a fact that the government is not going to start funding, how come someone does not start a non-for-profit organization to hire a doctor and raise money to pay for the poor to have the procedure. If it is really about the service being available, rather than grandstanding about how horrible the government is, one would think practical measures would be being planned.

  • Michael Bayne
    April 13, 2014 - 09:37

    Abortion as a means of birth control is irresponsible, but I do support a woman's right to choose. It's her body, after all, and there are perfectly understandable reasons to have an abortion (rape, incest, cases where a woman has a significant chance of dying if she carries to term, etc.). The loss of this clinic is not a good development at all.

    • To Michael
      April 13, 2014 - 16:44

      To even suggest a woman needs any reason for an abortion is proof of bigotry. Stop hating women!!!

  • Janet McDonald
    April 13, 2014 - 09:07

    Abortions are available on PEI when medically needed, I wish pro choice people would stop accessing the Island of being in the dark age, they are misinforming the public. Now if you wish to terminate a pregnancy with an abortion as a form of birth control, then go to a facility set up for that. Don't waste our dwindling health dollars because you don't,t want to be inconvenienced

    • harold baillie
      April 13, 2014 - 14:27

      No abortions are not available on PEI. No hospital or clinic performs them - haven't since 1982. If a woman wants an abortion, they must get signatures of consenting physicians for a referral, and if successful in jumping that hoop, then she must arrange with the Halifax Infirmary (QEII Health Sciences Centre) in Nova Scotia for a date for the procedure. Then she must pay her transportation to get over there, likely accommodation too. And then transportation back. This can often be prohibitive for girls in their teens and early 20s. It's fine if you have a family that has the financial means and is supportive of you, but if you come from such a family, you most likely aren't going to need an abortion because you'll have either already been practising safe sex or you have self-esteem to not get taken advantage of by guys. Abortion is an essential service for low-income families. Dozens of hospitals in Ontario, Quebec, and western Canada perform abortions. Why can't a single hospital in PEI at least do this as well?

  • andrew macdonald
    April 13, 2014 - 08:00

    Abortion is not murder. It is an essential service for women - 50% of our population. The courts have defined that a fetus is just that - a fetus - and does not become a child until it has been born. All too often pregnancy has been a sentence to a lifetime in poverty and abuse for young Island women in their teens and 20s. We USED to have abortion services in PEI all throughout the 1970s. They were performed without fanfare at the Prince Edward Island Hospital on Brighton Road. Premier Jim Lee's government put a stop to it in 1982 when the new QEH opened and the Roman Catholic staff from the Charlottetown Hospital on Haviland Street (now a parking lot) opposed abortion, so the government committed to not having abortion performed in PEI. Imagine that, a church having sway over health care policy. Abortion is not illegal. Abortion is not murder. Those who characterize it as such show how logical their state of mind is and how they like to drink the special flavoured kool aid. Go crawl back under the rock you came out from under. This island is moving forward and Mr. Ghiz needs to ensure that abortion services are performed in PEI and paid for by the PEI government with no hoops to jump through or questions asked. And before people like ''Anne Hemphill'' ask - yes, I have 3 children, 2 girls and a boy. We made the CHOICE to have children and we love them very much. But believe me, I do not want my daughters to live in a province where they are not treated like equal citizens and have access to health care services that are available in the rest of this country. If towns like Whitehorse and Yellowknife (populations 20,000 each) can have abortion services, surely all of PEI (population 140,000) can do so as well. The economic argument has no merit. The morality argument espoused by anti-abortion activists has no merit (it is a legal procedure). What's holding you back Mr. Ghiz?

    • To Andrew
      April 13, 2014 - 12:01

      Abortion is wonderful. Especially for men. Absolutely 100% agree. It should be so easy that it can be done in a walk-in clinic. All men should be pro-abortion. If the woman decides to abort, no responsibility. If she decides not to , then no responsibility, as he has had absolutely no role to play in the birth of the child and should in no way every be held to support the results of a decision that is 100% that of the woman. Legal abortion is one of the most liberating things that has ever happened to men. It has completely removed the man from any responsibility for any consequences from sex. She gets pregnant and doesn't want it, go to the doc and problem solved. I say move into the 21st century, and get rid of the silly idea that men have any responsible for exercising a biological imperative.

    • yep
      April 13, 2014 - 12:06

      Slaves were ruled not to be people either. So killing them wasn't murder.

    • yep
      April 13, 2014 - 12:07

      Come to think of it, prior to the 20th century, were women not persons. Was killing them legal?

    • yep
      April 13, 2014 - 12:12

      Corporations are people. The definition of a person is whatever is convenient.

    • Realist
      April 13, 2014 - 13:08

      @To Andrew, PEI is not that enlightened. The people still think that sex has something to do with pregnancy, and a woman getting pregnant is some sort of a male responsibility. lol

  • Anne Hemphill
    April 12, 2014 - 19:16

    All abortion clinics should be closed. Abortion is murder no matter what way you look at it. If it's unlawful to kill someone who might have a chance to defend themselves, how much worse is it to kill a defenceless child. Let's bring responsibility back; Even prayer in schools would help.

    • Tyler Costain
      April 13, 2014 - 06:26

      All chocolate chip clinics should be closed. Eating chocolate chips is murder no matter what way you look at it. If it's unlawful to kill something that doesn't have a chance to defend themselves, how much worse is it to eat a defenceless chocolate chip. Let's bring responsibility back; Even prayer in schools would help. That's how ridiculous that sounds

    • To tyler
      April 13, 2014 - 11:53

      Yes, you do sound like an idiot. An idiot who hasn't got a clue how to argue for their own position without making themselves look like a elementary school dropout.

    • Tyler est Idiotis
      April 13, 2014 - 12:20

      Killing slaves is murder no matter what way you look at it. If it's unlawful to kill something that doesn't have a chance to defend themselves, how much worse is it to kill a defenseless slave. That's how ridiculous that sounds

  • Pei guy
    April 12, 2014 - 15:22

    As a man, I certainly can't relate to carrying a child, but when I was at the first appt when my wife was pregnant with our first child I remember thinking it was incredible to hear that heartbeat at 12 weeks. It was a wonderful sound of life. I don't understand the notion of 'pro choice'. Perhaps I'm old school, but it seems like you make a choice when you have sex (and pls don't reply with the rape and incest comments). I feel you should lose some of the choice when you make that decision. That decision brings with it a new responsibility. after a child is born you can't just decide it is too tough, costly or are responsible!!!! It is sad to think of all the children that were never born.."..

    • to the bigot
      April 13, 2014 - 12:37

      stop treating women like cattle