Anti-abortion groups want province to fight lawsuit

Teresa Wright
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A spokeswoman for an antiabortion group in P.E.I. says she believes the P.E.I. government should fight the lawsuit filed against the province over its refusal to provide abortion services.

Holly Pierlot, president of the P.E.I. Right to Life Association, says the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code of Canada may not currently protect the rights of an unborn fetus, but she believes there is language in the charter that would allow for a new interpretation of the current laws.

“The very fact that Canada doesn’t like to call certain people human from time to time, be it women or the pre-born, in their criminal law, until such time as that is changed it doesn’t really matter. We all know full well this is a human child,” Pierlot said.

“I would like to say (the charter) can be challenged itself. It says everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law, regardless of age. I think science is pretty clear that there’s an age of a child in the womb. Just because the Criminal Code says the child has to be fully separated, that’s a different issue than what’s in the charter. So I think even that can be contested.”

On Tuesday, Abortion Access Now P.E.I., a local advocacy group that recently incorporated in the province, gave the deputy attorney general the required 90-day notice of its intent to file an action in the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island against the P.E.I. government.

Kim Staton, legal director for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, a national, equality rights organization supporting the local group’s litigation, says this Supreme Court action will be a charter challenge and an administrative law challenge.

“The province is required to fund only medically necessary services, and abortion is rarely that. Pro-choicers call it a ‘choice,’ and the government is not required to fund merely elective procedures either.” Holly Pierlot, president of the P.E.I. Right to Life Association

“In our view, P.E.I.’s abortion policy violates the right of Island women to equal access to health care services under the equality rights provisions of the charter,” Staton said.

But Pierlot says the province has jurisdiction under the Canada Health Act to determine what health services are publicly funded and by what means.

“The province is required to fund only medically necessary services, and abortion is rarely that. Pro-choicers call it a ‘choice,’ and the government is not required to fund merely elective procedures either.”

Campaign Life Coalition, a national anti-abortion group, also weighed in Wednesday, accusing the local abortion advocacy group of trying to thwart provincial jurisdiction by trying to use the courts to force the province to provide abortions, “purely because of their brand of morality that sees abortion as socially desirable,” said spokeswoman Alissa Golob.

“Abortion is not a disease or illness and is not a medical necessity. Therefore this lawsuit has no merit and the Prince Edward Island government has every right not to provide abortion,” Golob said.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office of P.E.I. says government is carefully reviewing the material to be filed and “will respond accordingly in due course.”

Organizations: Life Association, Charter, Supreme Court Legal Education and Action Fund Life Coalition

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Canada

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Recent comments

  • J
    January 08, 2016 - 10:33

    N the additional expenses you refer to, in many cases are already paid for by the taxpayer, it's called Welfare.

  • Bonnie
    January 08, 2016 - 07:47

    Its 2016 people Get over it there should be no fight for this. us women have a Right to say and do what we want and its people like you guys that just want to get your say in there. its a womens body to do what you want and there is a lot of reasons for abortions and who are you people to say we cant have it where we live get over it. you guys are lookijng to fight well get over it its 2016 and time for a Change!!!!!!!1

  • enough already
    January 07, 2016 - 18:11

    All medical services should be available to everyone on P.E.I.. Why should anyone have to travel for any procedure? Sue the bastards everyone!

    • Get a grip
      January 07, 2016 - 19:21

      There are dozens of procedures and speciality services that Isladers have to drive off Island for.- and bear the costs incurred. Why are we still talking about this!!!???

  • Tulpa
    January 07, 2016 - 17:20

    If this lawsuit were successful I'm curious what other medical services would fall in the same category and need to be provided here under the equality principle? Not saying that's a bad thing.

  • waste of money
    January 07, 2016 - 16:51

    This'll be a big waste of taxpayers money paying lawyers to fight a losing battle. The province would save a lot of money by not fighting it. The province would also save a lot of money by contracting the OB-GYN from Amherst to conduct that clinic twice a month in Charlottetown instead of paying Vitalité Health over in Moncton.

  • 2 Cents
    January 07, 2016 - 16:43

    I want my 2 cents to go the lawyers and fight this slaughter of innocent babies- not to the doctors who destroy them without conscience.

    • N
      January 07, 2016 - 19:40

      They aren't 'babies', they're fetuses. So you prefer to force women to slave gestate for 9-10 months and birth unwanted pregnancies, putting the woman's life in danger? Are you going to lock her up and foot the bill for all of her and her child's additional medical expenses, food, lodging, clothing and education for the next 20 years to ensure the unwanted pregnancy produces a decent adult? And if the mother dies during her pregnancy or childbirth are you going to take responsibility for that death?

  • MFH
    January 07, 2016 - 16:33

    Yes !! the government should fight this and if they win they should go after these people for the costs involved.

  • number one
    January 07, 2016 - 15:11

    Yes the Province should fight this. This a bullying tactics, and should be met head on for what it is. What is happening (free abort) now is out of the goodness of the heart of Island taxpayers. The law is clear, and our government has an obligation to protect and adhere to the law of the land. So Wade, don't use this as an excuse to buckle under, you do not have the power to circumvent the law, even if you wanted to.

    • Nato
      January 07, 2016 - 16:17

      Except that abortion is legal. Essentially, being against abortion is being against women's rights.

    • Chris
      January 08, 2016 - 10:24

      I don't get this "against women's rights" thing. I'm not saying women shouldn't have access to abortions, but how is an extra couple hours drive against your rights? Do you know how many people need to travel off island for medically necessary procedures? We are a small province. We can't offer every service imaginable. Women who want, or sometimes need to have abortions, have to make this trip once. ONCE. A parent with a sick or disabled child has to make an even longer trip many times, yet you do not hear them complaining about it. There are many life saving procedures that aren't offered on island either. Why do pro-choicers have this level of entitlement? No one's telling you that you can't have an abortion. You just need to drive a few extra hours ONE TIME.