Abortion conference underway at UPEI

Ryan Ross
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While many people think abortions aren’t performed in P.E.I., they do still happen, says a UPEI researcher.

Alicia Lewis, who used billing data for Island doctors in her research, said people often think those illegal abortions are something that happened in the past, but that’s not the case.

“Women do to continue to be harmed by these types of abortions,” she said.

Lewis was one of the presenters Thursday morning during a session at an abortion conference at UPEI.

The conference, which the organizers called Abortion: the Unfinished Revolution, ran Thursday and continued today with more than 70 delegates from around the world gathering to discuss abortion-related issues.

While the morning sessions were underway, a group of pro-life protesters gathered near the university where they held large signs depicting graphic abortion images visible to passing motorists.


Inside and away from the protesters, Lewis presented her findings she gathered after she got billing data from Health P.E.I. from 1996 to 2013 and she showed that there were numerous illegal abortions or failed abortions with some leading to complications for the women involved.

The province’s restrictions may drive women to unsafe abortions, she said.

“Access to abortions is clearly unequal across Canada.”

Colleen MacQuarrie, who is one of the conference’s organizers, was also a presenter during the same session as Lewis and had similar things to say about illegal abortions, which she said happen in P.E.I. more often than people think.

“It’s not just something that happened with clothes hangers in the ’60s and ’70s,” she said.

MacQuarrie said women who were part of her research felt they had to jump through hoops to get access to abortions.

“Women feel that they are in the stone ages,” she said.

The situation in P.E.I. is detrimental to women’s health, MacQuarrie said as she talked about reproductive justice, which she later described as a woman’s power to decide if and when to have children, how many to have, and the resources to parent those children.

“Equality requires reproductive justice,” she said.

The conference continues Friday with sessions throughout the day and a closing address from researcher Marlene Gerber Fried, which will deal with advocacy in the U.S. and reproductive rights.



Geographic location: P.E.I., Canada, U.S.

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Recent comments

  • Suzanne
    August 09, 2014 - 22:31

    So illegal abortions are supposed to lead to maternal deaths. That was the whole rationale to legalizing abortion in the 60s and 70s-- if women don't have abortions, they will die. Where are all these dead women?

  • carol williams
    August 09, 2014 - 08:40

    great event UPEI, congratulations to the organizers and the scholars who believe that an informed understanding of reproductive health is valued.

  • Peter
    August 08, 2014 - 16:11

    Dear "Attitude" Can you not wish for and perhaps provide a safe haven for those many many children without parents, that can actually survive and live outside their mother's womb? You know, the orphans, the abused children in Social Services care, those unwanted children that wish only for a loving family to be part of. What is your attitude towards these destitute children? It seems to be that your attitude is: "I don't have disgusting pics of these children to flash around and make my point, so they don't matter".

    • attitude
      August 08, 2014 - 20:46

      Peter you put words up that are yours - not mine Thanks for drawing more attention to the needs of the unborn

    • Smalld
      August 08, 2014 - 23:40

      Peter has a point open your eyes and actually read it.What use are you 'attiure' if your oh so concerned with sticking your nose into others concerns why not care about the individuals that have the misfortune of not having a home. Put it to use that actually venefits everyone and doesn't cause an uproar. I am starting to think that's clearly all you want is some serious attention ... And makes me wonder what kind of homes you where brought up in to warrant such hurtful, negative and selfish behaviour.

    • so sad
      August 09, 2014 - 06:13

      attitude you have a great way of manipulating peoples words to fit your own agenda.

    • attitude
      August 09, 2014 - 09:41

      remember ,those of you you who criticize me for my concern for the safety of the womb-there were 2 people that introduced extra circumstances on the womb and its contents --also remember if you cannot logically deal with my points you can always lower yourself to call me names,tell falsehoods about what you think i am and twist my words to your liking I am very glad you respond so negatively because it lends further credibility to my views about the safety of a human womb -

  • Janet
    August 08, 2014 - 14:05

    Is billing data not confidential?

    • peicurmudgeon
      August 09, 2014 - 09:47

      Janet - billing data can be used, under strict rules of confidentiality, for population based research. In other words, the data is stripped of information that can identify the patient or the physician and used for statistical purposes. It is one of the means by which general stats such disease prevalence is determined.

  • attitude
    August 08, 2014 - 11:30

    I wish you a safe haven -not because of religion - not rules from the legal system -just for the sake of mercy and respect --you are in a dangerous place - you are subject to all types of outside influences - you are hopefully going to be nurtured into this world and loved dearly -if you do not make it into this world it wasn't because many didn't try to protect you !!