Proposal to bring abortion services to P.E.I. stonewalled by government

Teresa Wright
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National Abortion Federation - Canada web site.

A proposal to bring doctors to Prince Edward Island to provide abortion services is being stonewalled by the P.E.I. government.

Dawn Fowler, Canadian director of the National Abortion Federation, says her organization has presented a business case to the Robert Ghiz government with the aim to make abortion services available to women in P.E.I.

She says the plan would be cost-neutral for the province and three doctors are willing to travel to P.E.I to perform the procedure.

“It would mean that P.E.I. women could have the care on the Island and not have to leave the province,” Fowler said.

P.E.I. is the only province in Canada that does not offer any in-province abortion services.

The provincial government does cover the cost of the procedure out-of-province, 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.

Transportation costs are not covered.

Premier Robert Ghiz has said he believes the policy is working, noting that P.E.I. is a small province that cannot afford to offer every health care service.

“I guarantee you there are other Canadians in other provinces that drive a lot further for health-care services than Islanders who need to drive to Moncton or Halifax for health-care services," Ghiz said during a recent interview on the issue.

"We are small, we are close to other jurisdictions and I think that you have to take all those factors into account."

Fowler says the procedure itself is a minor one that could easily be offered in the province with little-to-no major changes or costs.

The National Abortion Federation presented a proposal to the P.E.I. government that would see three doctors coming to P.E.I. to perform abortions in an existing local hospital, using ambulatory care rooms and existing human resources.

She also noted P.E.I. already pays for medical care for Island women who receive hospital abortions off-Island, and that money could be redirected toward local services.

After making its way up the bureaucratic food chain – including a presentation to the P.E.I. medical advisory committee – the proposal has been stalled.

Health P.E.I. CEO Dr. Richard Wedge was unavailable for an interview Friday, but a statement from his office said the current policy on abortion will not change, as per the government’s direction.

“Health P.E.I. is following government direction to maintain status quo in terms of abortion services in P.E.I.”

Fowler says it appears there is a lack of political will to make changes to the policy.

Her group wants to challenge that position.

“I think it’s important that we try and find out why they don’t want to continue to look at the business case and what would be their reason for not having a full discussion and evaluation of it,” Fowler said.

“It’s the only province in the country that you can’t receive this care. It is a common procedure, whether people want to acknowledge that or not, and it should be provided locally. Sending women off-Island for this, I think, is inexcusable.”

The federation is planning a news conference in Charlottetown next Wednesday that will include one of the physicians willing to offer abortion services in P.E.I.

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: National Abortion Federation, Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Halifax

Geographic location: P.E.I., Prince Edward Island, Canada Moncton Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • wtf?
    May 27, 2014 - 10:40

    remind me again why members of the government get to make choices based on their own personal opinions to deny an entire province of a highly demanded service that has not been declared illegal anywhere in the country? getting very tired of living in this province. our government is embarrassing.

  • Logical
    May 25, 2014 - 12:17

    If you don't agree with abortion don't have one, seems pretty straight forward. It's pro-choice, not pro-abortion. It's not a pleasant procedure, the majority of abortion service users did not make that decision lightly and do not use it as birth control. I can word this a hundred different ways but I'm going to feel one way about it and others are going to disagree, that's not going to change but regardless of what anyone thinks to be the only place that does not respect federal law is messed up. Women have long had this right and we fail them over & over.

  • Question
    May 25, 2014 - 11:04

    Silly question, are these abortionists licensed to practice "medicine" in Prince Edward Island?

    • Answer
      May 25, 2014 - 14:19

      In the rest of the country, abortions are performed in hospitals, so yes, they are performed by medical professionals

  • Looking forward to it
    May 25, 2014 - 10:41

    This province is being dragged into the modern age and it's wonderful thing to see. PEI politicians are gradually losing their ability to control people and they haven't got a clue of what to do.

  • Sandy
    May 25, 2014 - 06:31

    All the righteous talk about killing babies. (When did a fetus become a baby?) from those against abortion is a poor argument. Actually areas where abortions are illegal or difficult have a much higher death rates because women resort to desperate methods to end the pregnancy and may end up dieing themselves. This is data that is overlooked

  • Rita Joseph
    May 24, 2014 - 18:20

    It all sounds like a sensible 'business' proposal until you realize that the 'care' these doctors will provide is lethal for their second patients--the tiny human beings they target for abortion 'services'. Genuine medicine does no deliberate harm to a distressed mother or her unborn baby. Lethal violence against children is never 'necessary'. All violence against children is preventable. Before as well as after birth, children should never receive less protection than adults. Their mothers' personal and social needs can and should be met by non-violent means.

    • Jason
      May 25, 2014 - 16:45

      Medical and legal fact: a fetus is not a human being. It is a collection of cells and part of the woman's body until it has exited her body during birth. An abortion is a legal medical procedure that all women in Canada have a right to access by CHOICE. By you denying that choice due to your religious beliefs is legally and morally wrong. You don't have to agree with abortion but you cannot prevent someone from having the CHOICE to use it, let alone have access to it.

  • Island Woman
    May 24, 2014 - 18:16

    Alice ,do you homework before you go online with your uninformed words. If you go to the Advisory Council on the Status of Women's website,facebook, you'll find the answers to your questions as to what they stand for .ACSW continuously speaks up for women ,on their own or in collaboration with other groups.

  • Kristen
    May 24, 2014 - 17:52

    This is taking away women's rights. It's their body and they should be able to make their own life decisions. Another reason religion alone is poison, but an even better example of why religion should NEVER merge with the government. It's a backwards way of thinking. In our day and age it's all about acceptance - which religion does not do. It's just like the homophobia battle. What's the main problem? People who follow religion. No different.

  • Confused
    May 24, 2014 - 17:51

    I don't understand the problem here... Abortion is legal and performed in hospitals across Canada. If doctor's are willing to provide abortion services on P.E.I. how can politicians not allow them to? That's really messed up stuff.

  • Kringe
    May 24, 2014 - 17:48

    On demand ... without apology. It's coming! This reliance on outdated religious ignorance will end, and we will move forward. The men who have governed this province and discriminated against women, and the women who sat idly by and let them ... you are an embarrassment.

  • Danny Gallant
    May 24, 2014 - 17:45

    I've been watching the debate in Quebec over the legislation that would legalize euthanasia ''An Act respecting end-of-life care''. PEI needs in-province abortion services, as well as euthanasia. Get rid of the moralists and start having realists implement our health services. Human beings are primates and close relatives to mountain gorillas, chimpanzes, etc. Thus, as animals, albeit highly evolved animals, we should be able to seek the same level of care services from the medical system that veterinarians can offer to other species.

  • G. Ann McKenzie
    May 24, 2014 - 17:44

    With both useless Liberal and Conservative governments on PEI, it is absolutely inspiring and amazing to hear that the work to bring about the end to this blatant inequality is being done by Islanders. Years of 'status quo' responses from Ghiz and yet you persist in your quest to allow women full and equal access to the health care system. I would love to shake the hand of each and every person doing this work! Keep it up! You are winning and we will see this done. So very thankful.

  • confused
    May 24, 2014 - 17:43

    I don't get what the problem is. Abortion is legal and allowed in hospitals in Canada. If doctors are willing to perform the procedure how can politicians not allow them to?

  • charlottetown woman
    May 24, 2014 - 17:38

    The reason the proposal is stalled is because of MEN like Robert Ghiz, Doug Currie and Sean Casey who oppose a woman's right to choose and the right to have a service provided in their home province. Face it, this isn't about money. If PEI can spend $70 million on 2014 celebrations this year.... If PEI can spend $25 million on the plan B highway realignment.... Then PEI could easily afford the $100,000-$200,000 cost of an in-province abortion service. ESPECIALLY when this service was offered from 1969-1982 at the Prince Edward Island Hosptial on Brighton Rd.

  • Tired of the abortion crowd
    May 24, 2014 - 16:41

    Peter is spouting his conspiracy theories again, I see. He sure does want to see a few abortion clinics in PEI! Hey Peter, maybe we can close down a few schools and turn them into abortion centers. What do ya think?

  • ibc
    May 24, 2014 - 16:02

    Today no one has to get pregnant in the first place , come now we are living in 2014 not 1902 . Always felt that if I allowed myself to get pregnant , it is my fault , not that of the PEI government . Handle it your self so money can be put to better use like saving a life and education .

  • alice
    May 24, 2014 - 14:24

    Two new things in all this, --- the comments about an agreement between the Gov. & the Catholic Church not to allow abortion when the hospital amalgamation occured is interesting, - never heard that before, and should be easy to check, - somebody??? Now regarding the difference from other provinces regarding collection and distribution of maintenance support is interesting and should be a matter for the PEI ADVICESORY COUNCIL ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN, - still sleeping I guess, - now here is something that would appear to be their ball of wax- get on with it, - also where do you stand on abortion??? Or are you afraid your taxpayer supported living will end if you stand up for women rather than for your salaries??????

    • Peter
      May 24, 2014 - 15:42

      Alice ... do a search on Old Charlottetown Hospital ... It's there. Sorry I can't post the link. I tried before but it was blocked by the Guardian.

  • Following this topic
    May 24, 2014 - 14:11

    I've been following this topic for some time now and have to view my opinion. Firstly, let me say I'm not religious but am very much against abortion as a means of Birth Control. The Pro-choice supporters say that a woman has the choice of what they do with their body. I agree wholeheartedly. Perhaps choose birth control prior to conception. Individuals will spout about those who are raped and victims of incest..... well, what percentage of persons seeking abortions are victims of rape and or incest. I'm guessing less than 10%. Ex Islander mentioned that the inability to get an abortion on the island can lead to lack of child support if the relationship breaks up followed by a life of poverty. Well.... choose your partner wisely. Is he a dirtbag or is he a man...? A real man will do anything necessary within the law to support his child.

    • Anon
      May 24, 2014 - 15:11

      Regardless of your views, if a woman doesn't want to have a child for WHATEVER reason, she should be able to not have a child. The province is denying women their Constitutional RIGHTS by not having an abortion clinic here. Have you ever met a woman who had an abortion? As simple of a procedure as it is, it is very invasive and more often than not, women who have had an abortion have only ever had ONE abortion. If you're talking about responsibility as a factor and making people own up to their mistakes, do you really HONESTLY think that a person who is going to have unprotected sex and use abortions as birth control should really be raising a baby in the first place? Forget about punishing the person(s) who made the mistake in the first place - a baby does NOT deserve to be born unwanted and unplanned.

    • Laura
      May 24, 2014 - 20:38

      54% of women getting an abortion were using some form of birth control when they got pregnant. No method is 100% effective, mistakes happen, condoms break, etc. An abortion is a medical service, and should be available to all those who need it, not to those someone else deems deserving of it. You say to choose your partner wisely, but abusive relationships can be difficult to escape, and not everyone will step up to the plate to support their child. Making a poor decision in your choice of sexual partner does not mean that you should be forced to raise a child with that person

  • David Nicholson
    May 24, 2014 - 10:46

    Other Canadians need to drive further than Islanders for vital health services. That is a wholly unreasonable view to justify denying a woman's right in determining her own choices on the issue of reproductive freedom. Maybe we should be grateful that he isn't a Christian Scientist...who knows how far we would have to travel for medical services. Or aspirin. Or cough syrup. This seems like a clear case of theocratic posturing (disguised, naturally behind political mumbling) trumping a citizen's rights. How very not at all surprising.

  • no google
    May 24, 2014 - 10:37

    I really do not understand linking abortion to the Catholic Church. I am sure there are lots of people that are for restriction on abortions,such as killing fetuses for sex selection purposes or killing fetuses that are seven or eight months old that are not Catholic of even christian.

    • Peter
      May 24, 2014 - 13:16

      In 1982, after 102 years of service, the Charlottetown Hospital closed its doors when the Queen Elizabeth Hospital opened. The closure of the Charlottetown Hospital and Prince Edward Island Hospital also saw the end of abortion services in the province offered by the latter institution; one of the conditions that the Roman Catholic Church placed on the provincial government for merging the Catholic-affiliated Charlottetown Hospital with the Prince Edward Island Hospital into the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital being that all abortion services in the province be discontinued

  • I For One
    May 24, 2014 - 10:08

    I for one don't want a the physician willing to offer abortion services in P.E.I. for the sake of birth control to darken our shores . Doctors should & I believe they do take a oath to save life - NOT END IT unless the mother is in danger . Doctors like these three are just greedy money grabbers & a disgrace to the profession .

    • Fred MacLeod
      May 24, 2014 - 11:21

      If doctors weren't greedy, we would have cured cancer by now.

    • jasmine
      May 24, 2014 - 13:56

      whether or not having an abortion is ending a life is a matter of opinion and an opinion should not be affecting any woman's ability to do what she chooses with her body... therefore these services should be offered for those who need it. it's extremely ignorant to call doctors who do it greedy, and you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

    • Again I Agree
      May 25, 2014 - 08:00

      @ jasmine : Yes jasmine , abortion in my mind is ending a life & a opinion . Mine , I also agree that a women's ability to do what she chooses with her body is hers alone to make . Now for the gist of this subject , if she wants a abortion , she has already chosen not to use birth control & conceive a baby . She has made her choice & the unborn child shouldn't have to die because she changes her mind . That's the long & short of it .

    • BREAKING NEWS
      May 25, 2014 - 12:37

      This just in: All birth control 100% effective and all accidental pregnancies actually deliberate. Source: Some guy in The Guardian comments.

    • you are ignorant
      May 27, 2014 - 10:58

      I for one suffered most of my adult life from extreme clinical depression. I took every precaution to avoid pregnancy but it still happened. I had no money, no support system and I would have attempted to abort it myself, no telling what I could have done to myself in the process, had someone not helped me cover the costs. I know myself that I would not have made it through a pregnancy at that point in my life, the depression was so deep. I for one, think that you are a very ignorant human and I for one, would not ever want to have you darkening my doorway or the doorway of any woman who feels her life is about to taken away at the hands of a child who she would only grow to resent. No child deserves to be raised in a home where they are not valued or cared for. And I have seen first hand what happens to children raised in a family with no money or care. These are the children who never have a chance.

  • New Generation
    May 24, 2014 - 09:30

    It's wonderful to see places like PEI lead the way to a new way of thinking. Hopefully, some day abortions will be a thing of the past. We need young people to point out the error in the thinking of the previous generation. Regardless of what people say, abortion is killing a baby. Why our government pays for such a procedure is frightening and truly indicative of backwards thinking. How about for now women and couples pay for their abortion out of their own pockets. Give the rest of us some dental coverage. Stay the course PEI. You are leading the way to something great!

    • A member of the Old Generation?
      May 24, 2014 - 12:53

      Clever move. Trying to frame this as a "new way of thinking" makes not providing healthcare to women seem hip and cool. Unfortunately, it's still going to be a pretty hard sell. Everyone on the Island knows that the reason we don't have easily accessible abortion services is because our politicians are scared of the huge number of non-secular citizens whose vote they might lose if they aren't seen fighting the issue. On our little Island we've got such a high majority of Roman Catholics and other Christian denominations that we're stuck in the past on civil issues that should be cut-and-dry. To me, it seems like most Islanders are stuck in the "old way of thinking". One of us is incorrect in our classification of the two sides of the issue. I'm willing to bet it's the one whose not on the side of religious dogma.

  • Peter
    May 24, 2014 - 08:59

    Dear Dawn Fowler, Canadian director of the National Abortion Federation. While I applaud your efforts on behalf of women in PEI, I suggest to you that directing your efforts to the Government of PEI is a waste of time. I believe the Government would provide this service if it was allowed to, but it is not allowed to. If you (and your supporters) were to direct your efforts to the Catholic Church, perhaps in time, your efforts will succeed. Someday, whether liked or not, the Catholic Church will have to face the reality of of the situation as well as the 21st (maybe not until 22nd though), century.

  • Ex Islander
    May 24, 2014 - 08:47

    PEI folloWs it's oen path even if that is against Canadian law or the constitution. There are several examples of this, not just the abortion issue. Not allowing abortion's, which is a legal right in the rest of Canada, creates something of a perfect storm for women there. Couple that with not following Federal law and guidelines on child support and maintenance enforcement, can often guarantee a single mother and child (or children) a life of poverty. I know many women in PEI (I'm male) who have tried to get child support from former partners without any help or success. They get a pat on the head and a boot out the door. Excuses like "he's not making much more than you" or he's having a tough time as well" are often the reasons for not following the mandatory payment schedule or using the powers of enforcing child support. EVERY OTHER PROVINCE follows Federal law on Maintenance Enforcement and the child support tables. PEI women would be shocked to see what other provinces do with that legislation. There, you go to Maintenance and they will enforce the payment schedule to the full amount, garnish wages, suspend drivers licenses, seize asset's, etc to ensure the child has at least some funds to survive and hopefully thrive. So in PEI, she can't get an abortion and can't get her legally guaranteed support and is thus pushed into a life of poverty. PEI is back-wards in so many respects, as so perfectly illustrated by the Wade Lynch fiasco.

    • Let it go
      May 24, 2014 - 11:17

      If is also backwards thinking to not take birth control. All they need to do is ask for it- it's free. Pei ix going the right thing in not providing abortions on demand. If on did needed it is available off Island the same as many other services.