P.E.I., Moncton Hospital to improve access to abortions for Island women

Teresa Wright
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Women in Prince Edward Island will have easier access to abortion services thanks to a new agreement between the Moncton Hospital and the P.E.I. government.

However, the Island will remain the only province in Canada where surgical abortions are not available.

Beginning on July 1, P.E.I. women will be able to access abortions in Moncton by calling a toll-free number and making an appointment at the Moncton Hospital. The procedure will be covered by P.E.I. Medicare when they present their P.E.I. health card.

Women will not have to seek two preliminary doctor’s referrals, an ultrasound or blood work - all steps P.E.I. women must currently take in order to access provincially covered abortions in the only other Health P.E.I. approved hospital in Halifax.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan says this new arrangement removes barriers similar to those identified in the 1988 Morgentaler decision and provides women access to confidential, quality care.

“We view this as a proper response in terms of the need and the obligation to offer the service to Prince Edward Island women,” he said.

But while this does make access to abortion easier and more streamlined, Prince Edward Island women will continue to have to pay $45 to leave the province via the Confederation Bridge.

MacLauchlan dismissed the notion this was a political decision.

“I wouldn’t describe it as a political decision so much as it is a decision about the provision in a comprehensive, clinical context of a service that is legally available and covered by the Canada Health Act.”

Health Minister Doug Currie hinted there could be further developments in this policy in future, calling this a “key first step” in eliminating access and barriers to women seeking abortions in Prince Edward Island.

“The announcement today is focusing on timely access and we’re going to continue to build on that,” Currie said.

“This announcement today was in partnership with a lot of good dialogue and conversation with key stakeholders… we’re going to continue to talk more about improving access to women’s health services in the province.”

Jane Ledwell, executive director of the P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women says while this announcement does not go as far as women’s groups have been asking, it is a significant first step.

“In some ways, this is the most important announcement in access to abortion in more than 30 years,” Ledwell said.

“It will make a difference to any number of women that they don’t have to go though the process of meeting with a doctor, go through blood work and ultrasounds locally. They can phone and have the independence and autonomy to phone and make an appointment and follow through with that appointment.”

Sara Roach–Lewis, executive director of the P.E.I. Women’s Health Network, agreed, saying these new measures will help many vulnerable women who have long been turning to organizations like hers trying to navigate through the current policies.

“To be able to see there’s a toll-free number and get professional, confidential, non-judgmental access to not only information but services that don’t require two doctor’s notes and going through an ultrasound on P.E.I. – that is a monumental shift.”

Roach-Lewis was especially encouraged by Currie’s comments calling this a first step.

“We know that change in policy takes a long time, so I’m still confident and still will continue to work for local (abortion) access,” she said.

“I think that we’re certainly well on our way to that.”

Organizations: Moncton Hospital, Wade MacLauchlan and Paula Biggar

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • J
    June 04, 2015 - 06:10

    I think everybody is missing the point here. It's not whether abortion is right or wrong or legal but why there is such a need for abortion. Why do so many young women feel the need for an abortion a? Are they not taking precautions a? Do people not realize that when they have sex, pregnancy is a possibility? Or are people scr....ing left and wright without thinking about pregnancy because abortion is available?

  • About time!
    June 03, 2015 - 12:46

    Thank you, Wade and Doug, for bringing us into the 21st century. The sky has not fallen, hellfire has not burned the island, and, despite the uproar from the religious zealots and the finger-wagging abortion-as-birth-control crowd, the Island way of life has not changed except for the better. Keep on shaking things up, Wade.

  • Francis
    June 03, 2015 - 09:15

    So did you hear during the campaign that the Liberals were sticking with the status quo??? Or, did you hear "sticking with the status quo", BUT looking at SOME MODIFICATIONS? For those disappointed with this decision by the Liberal government should have heeded the warning "read the fine print". --- This is just the beginning.

  • Crossed out
    June 03, 2015 - 09:08

    This Premier is some cute. It does not matter if you are pro or con, the Premier's political performance, stickhandling this issue during the campaign, has to be viewed as magnificent. Now it is up to each individual to assess whether they think he has been less than transparent, - were you hood winked into voting for the liberals???

  • Maria
    June 03, 2015 - 09:01

    It is no sin off my nose one way or an other. However two things I do care about is that this service is provided in the most efficient and cheapest way possible for the taxpayers. It would appear that the MacLauchlan Government is not going to do that if indeed the earlier report of cost savings of about $ 40.000 by doing it 'in house'. Secondly, it bothers me that this has obviously been the fall back position by the liberals all along, and well under way before the election. The Premier's profession of transparency CAN CERTAINLY BE CALLED INTO QUESTION. This position should have been revealed during the campaign, instead of the mealy mouthed musings the Premier uttered on the matter during the election. He is showing himself to be as blatantly disrespectful of the electorate as Ghiz and even his own candidate, Mundy, and all the other public officials that believe we are only worth half truths and lies. Thank you Mr. MacLauchlan for showing us early on that your words are worth noting..

  • unbelievable
    June 03, 2015 - 05:49

    There are many reasons one would oppose and feel upset at this whole issue. I truly believe we are doing women a disservice by not providing real and lasting help. Education, a guaranteed income, help with food and housing, increased childcare supplements, increased medical care, etc. By encouraging someone to have an abortion, we are basically saying "get rid of the problem that you have at the moment" instead of the alternative response of "how can we come alongside and support and help you as a woman who is in difficult circumstances?" It is not simply one child that is terminated, it is that child's children and grandchildren and so on. Is it any wonder we are at a time in society where old people for the first time will outnumber the young? We are so very shortsighted. Sigh.

  • Pro choice
    June 02, 2015 - 21:12

    I sat here for about an hour shaking with anger trying to figure out what I was going to say to some of these responses, but then I remembered this great little thing I found on the Internet "Here’s a test: I’m holding a baby in one hand and a petri dish holding an embryo in the other. I’m going to drop one. You chose which. If you really truly believe an embryo is the same thing as a baby, it should be impossible for you to decide. You should have to flip a coin, that’s how impossible the decision should be. Shot in the dark, you saved the baby. Because you’re aware there’s a difference. Now admit it."

    • Ill-logic
      June 03, 2015 - 08:21

      There is a third (correct) choice, respect human life and drop neither!!

  • Brittany
    June 02, 2015 - 18:52

    Anti-abortionists need to realize that even if a women uses birth control properly with condoms, there is still a slight chance that she can get pregnant. What about the women who are raped? Do you think they are required to raise the child that stemmed from such a traumatizing experience? Absolutely not.

  • Ken Gallent
    June 02, 2015 - 16:40

    Islanders the BEAST has arrived. Get down on your kness anprey hard! This is SIN, we aredoomed. This and gay mirrasge has awaken da beasts!

    • Thank God!
      June 03, 2015 - 08:18

      Thank God I don't believe in the same God you do... so I'm okay with abortion and gay marriages (not that the two are even remotely related).

  • PeiGuytoo
    June 02, 2015 - 16:35

    This is nothing more than a political copout .. transfer the whole process to Island hospitals.

  • Bill Meeker
    June 02, 2015 - 16:29

    Are you anti-abortions really as stupid as your comments seem to show? The Island government has always paid for abortions done in off-Island hospitals. They did not pay for abortions done in private clinics, but there is no private clinic in Moncton. The MacLauchlan government is doing what PEI governments have always done under medicare - paying for abortions done in the Moncton hospital. All that is happening is that it will now be easier on the woman to make an appointment.

    • lou lou annie
      June 02, 2015 - 19:50

      * Are you anti-abortionists

  • J
    June 02, 2015 - 15:10

    I understand that in some cases medical abortions may be necessary but do two people when they have sex not know that it could possibly end in pregnancy? We are being told by the medical community to take responsibility of our own health, well wouldn't taking precautions not to get pregnant be considered taking care of one's health? Also, isn't surgical abortion considered invasive to the body? Maybe there's too much of the "rubber legs syndrome going around."

    • Get Real
      June 02, 2015 - 17:14

      When people smoke cigarettes, do they not know it could result in cancer, not only for themselves but for the recipients of the second hand smoke but do we subject lung cancer patients to moral judgement about their lack of responsibility in regards to their health?

    • Uh Huh
      June 02, 2015 - 17:51

      I like to think every rapist out there is responsible and uses protection to prevent pregnancy

    • Darryl
      June 02, 2015 - 23:55

      Precautions are not 100%! It's about time that PEI did something about this problem and provide abortions. They should have it in PEI in a hospital there. Now it's time for the government to deal with the attitude at the QE11 Hospital with there Doctors!

    • Islander
      June 03, 2015 - 08:25

      Not all the people having abortions have "rubber legs", as you put it. That being said, two consenting people have the right to enjoy a health sex life without having to raise a child. Sex hormones are normal and a healthy sex life contributes to good overall health. People can take as much responsibility as they possibly can--pregnancy is a possibility. People take lots of risks with their health--smoking, eating unhealthy food, not exercising enough, exercising too much....we don't deny these people health care just because they have made a choice that contributes to a health issue. The argument to deny an abortion to people have had consenting sex because they should have known there was a risk of pregnancy is ridiculous.

  • Enough, now move on.
    June 02, 2015 - 14:42

    Dear pro-lifers, save your breathe and move on, abortion is legal in Canada. Dear pro-choice, many islanders have to travel off Island at their own expense for medical treatments in other provinces. They pay for their own transportation, food and sometimes lodging. Anyone that does have an abortion can get after care with their family doctor on PEI. If neither the pro-life or pro-choice approve of the situation please move or shut up. There's A LOT of very sick Islanders, men, women and children, please help them.

    • So sick of this
      June 02, 2015 - 21:27

      To "Enough, now and move on". I completely agree. I'm also so happy to see that the majority of these comments are showing that people on this Island know that there are so many more important medical issues at hand. Glad to see that us Islanders still have some common sense.

  • Stacey
    June 02, 2015 - 14:33

    I hope some women stop using this as a form of birth control.

  • Sad!
    June 02, 2015 - 14:33

    Why did he not have the courage to do this before the election? He would not have had my vote! Why does my tax being paid go to cover the cost of this so called procedure which takes the life of an innocent human life! This is not a good day for humanity!

    • Tired
      June 02, 2015 - 18:37

      Good... For your vote lost, the Liberals probably could have earned 4 votes.

  • enough already
    June 02, 2015 - 14:30

    People who ad " just saying",to the end of a statement, do they do that to prove they are idiots?

  • Cape Traverse Observer
    June 02, 2015 - 14:09

    Wade should be driving each and everyone of these women to Moncton and back. He can listen to their stories on the way there and back. You can learn much about real Island life in a couple hours. It's not all gentle.

  • Drew
    June 02, 2015 - 13:47

    I cannot believe our government is going to pay for abortions. If you don't want to get pregnant, stay celibate. What you are doing is killing an innocent baby. Yes, a baby!!

    • ironic guy
      June 02, 2015 - 17:11

      So if I throw a condom away after using it am I throwing away babies?

  • what is up
    June 02, 2015 - 13:14

    I'm all for the right to chose, but why the heck does the public purse have to fund a not clinical procedure. Why not cover dental services instead? or other much more common and needed services. This is nothing but cowtowing to the special interest groups. Junk policy by a junk government.

  • george
    June 02, 2015 - 12:54

    take the pill or don't get nocked up

    • Islander
      June 03, 2015 - 08:28

      *knocked up....

  • Prochoice
    June 02, 2015 - 12:30

    Teach men what condoms are. For the holy rollers that feel that abortion is a sin, instead of attacking women, it takes two to get a woman pregnant. Just saying. And unless you plan to raise that unwanted unborn fetus and hand over your pay cheques to cover the expenses to raise it until it's 18 years old, I would think you might not want to say too much.

  • Philip Collins
    June 02, 2015 - 12:30

    No big surprise that this announcement was made after the election. People would not have voted the liberals in knowing that they support abortion. For shame, Mr Premier. For shame.

    • Leader's Debate
      June 02, 2015 - 14:54

      If you watched the Leader's debates you would have known that the Liberals stated (in at least 2 of the debates) that they would look at removing some of the hurdles associated with abortions....and he did just that. He did keep one election promise already. Also, ALL of the leader's support abortion. They are all legally enforced to do so. They CANNOT legally with-hold services from a woman who wishes to have an abortion. Abortions are legal in Canada...whether you agree with it or not. PEI gets around having an abortion clinic on the Island by offering services off-Island at other hospitals. If there were no agreements with the other hospitals, PEI would be LEGALLY forced to open a clinic on PEI. So regardless of where a party member actually stands on the issue....make no mistake....they MUST in some way provide that service to the women of PEI.

  • Tired
    June 02, 2015 - 12:27

    Not far enough. But at least it bypasses PEI's judgemental and inept healthcare professionals. To pro-lifers: I know many pro-choicers who wouldn't have an abortion. It's about having a choice. Stop trying to impose your archaic religiously motivated dictatorial will over others. Religion is a private and personal thing and it has no business in politics or political policy. Don't want an abortion, don't get one. No one is asking you to save anyone's souls. Find a new hobby.

  • Quiet Observer
    June 02, 2015 - 12:24

    Medically unnecessary abortions (except extreme situations such as rape induced pregnancy) should not be government funded. Period. I am not anti-abortion. I am anti government paying for birth control.

    • mt
      June 02, 2015 - 17:35

      Sorry but better to pay for the procedure once than pay for social assistance until the unplanned or unwanted child is 18

  • Lou
    June 02, 2015 - 12:22

    Reading some of the comments feels like you are being transported in 1920s Canada, at a time when the Church dominated our lives! Wow PEI. When it comes to women's right to choose, to control over their bodies, try the 21st Century.

  • Ward 4 resident
    June 02, 2015 - 12:11

    Bravo Mr. Premier .... Finally a politician with the nads to make the right decision .... let the whining and nashing of teeth commence .... lemme guess , the tories aint happy and the Jesus people aint happy .... SHOCKER !!!! it aint 1950 ppl !!!!!!!!

  • ProChoice
    June 02, 2015 - 11:50

    Close but not close enough. What about travel, lodging, support before and after?! Why are Island women being denied local access for something that is legal in Canada? And before any of you ProLifers jump down my throat, can we stop arguing whether or not we support abortion?!? It's already legal in all of Canada!! If you don't like it, don't get one, but your judgement should not be the reason that someone who needs one doesn't have local access to it!

    • Pro Choice too but....
      June 03, 2015 - 12:47

      How about the 4 times a year I, like many other Islanders have to travel to Moncton for a check-up with a rheumatologist because PEI doesn't have one? I don't get reimbursed for my gas, bridge, etc.. There are thousands of Islanders who suffer from arthritis and have to make this trip. How many Island women are in need of abortions each year? 50? 100? The reality is we are a small province and can't expect every medical procedure to be preformed down the block. It's a 1.5 drive to Moncton from Charlottetown (even less from Summerside). Women from Sydney NS have to drive to Halifax for abortions (4.5 hours). You can't have everything. I have accepted this along with the thousands and thousands of other Islanders who travel to Halifax or Moncton for medical services not available here each year. Women wishing to have abortions should have to do the same!!

  • copy Premier Alex Campbell's policy
    June 02, 2015 - 11:46

    I'm surprised Wade didn't copy Alex Campbell's policy with the introduction of public medicare in 1969. PEI had abortion services at the PEI Hospital from 1969-1982 when RC wingnut Jim Lee canceled it.

  • Marie Gilchrist
    June 02, 2015 - 11:41

    Bravo !! Now a woman can choose what is right for her and her alone.

    • Philip Collins
      June 02, 2015 - 13:52

      Except at that point the woman is also deciding for someone else. She is not alone. Why should she have the right to end someone else's life?

  • Justmyopinion
    June 02, 2015 - 11:32

    I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion and choices they choose for their own lives and if it be abortion that's fine...but why should it be paid for by the government? (make it available at a cost for the procedure) Fertility treatments/adoptions are not covered for all those people that desperately want to have children but can't.

    • Cait
      June 02, 2015 - 17:58

      Is the cost of the difficult choice and the depression afterwards not enough for you? Not all abortions come from "whoops, didn't have a condom" sex. Birth control CAN and DOES fail, and rape exists even on PEI. Having an abortion is not an easy choice for women to make - there are many more factors involved in raising a child at any given point in a woman's life than just the fact that there is a mass of cells (NOT a living human being until taking a viable breath outside of the womb!) living parasitically in her uterus. Financial situation, domestic violence, access to proper care, current location, etc. Many children are raised in poverty because their mothers were forced to keep the pregnancy, drop out of school, get a minimum wage job and live paycheck to paycheck. If a woman in a situation like that was able to have an abortion instead, finish school, and get a decent paying job, imagine the life her children could have instead of the ones forced upon them because their mother couldn't get an abortion.

  • Jarrod
    June 02, 2015 - 11:30

    Great, a decision nobody on either side of this long, tiresome debate will be happy with.

  • Just a thought
    June 02, 2015 - 11:29

    This should only be provided for woman who for medical reasons only( pregnancy is life threating to mother or child). Abortion is wrong. For anyone who doesn't agree just take a look at your child, grandchild, niece or nephew and ask yourself...Should this child have been aborted? I bet I know your answer. Shame on anyone who supports this awful act.

    • Reality
      June 02, 2015 - 14:14

      Yeah and take a look at your child, granchild, niece or nephew who was the offspring of a violent rapist. Should this child have been aborted? Shame on anyone who makes a poor woman live through that.

    • Islander
      June 03, 2015 - 08:32

      That logic only applies if you love the child you have. Look at all the people who drink and do drugs during their pregnancy because they have addiction issues. Look at all the children around the world who are in orphanages without any parents. Look at all the children who suffer through years of abuse because their parents didn't want them/couldn't take care of them and abortion wasn't an option. If you think the child goes on to live some wonderful life each and every time an abortion is avoided, you're wrong.

  • Jarrod
    June 02, 2015 - 11:23

    Somehow I think nobody on either side of this long, tired debate is going to be happy with this decision.

  • john smith
    June 02, 2015 - 11:21

    Great!!! SO now no one needs to use birth control cause the govt will pay for you to kill the child. Why pay for birth control?? Bunch of idiots

    • don
      June 02, 2015 - 13:12

      i agree fully and i'll add that God will punish those who kill,murder his gift of a child. both here on earth and judgement day they will have to answer for a charge of MURDER.

    • HoHoHo
      June 02, 2015 - 14:36

      Don- I bet you believe that if you are naughty Santa Claus won't visit you too.... It seems to me that 3/4 of prolifers are the sweet Christians or *insert religion here* "who would never judge anyone".... At the end of the day this has nothing to do with your religion.. don't support it? Don't get one, but also don't concern yourselves over people that are for it.

  • Disgruntled tax payer
    June 02, 2015 - 11:05

    Wow, what next? Why not just pay for birth control, much cheaper!!! All these people on the island that want children and can't have them, but yet our awesome govt, will pay big money to kill innocent little lives!!! Glad I spoiled my ballot last election!!

    • sky daddy won't save you
      June 02, 2015 - 11:17

      When will you religious wackos ever give it up? PEI has an average of 60 abortions per year. We have thousands of live births.

    • Proud of the Gov't
      June 02, 2015 - 11:19

      There are hundreds of children in the permanent care of the government all across Canada. Why not adopt one of them? And PS, paying for birth control would actually be much more expensive, but I certainly support your idea. I think that would be wonderful....

    • Steve
      June 02, 2015 - 11:22

      So are you calling for public funding of birth control?

    • Just a thought
      June 02, 2015 - 11:32

      I am so mad with this announcement. Killing innocent babies.