P.E.I. abortion fight continues

Ryan Ross
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Kevin Arsenault files application for judicial review of government decisions on abortion

The P.E.I. government is facing another legal challenge over its position on paying for abortions.

The P.E.I. government is facing another legal challenge over its position on paying for abortions.

This time, it’s from someone who thinks the government shouldn’t fund them.

On Feb. 16, Kevin Arsenault filed an application for a judicial review seeking to have a judge declare the government acted outside its authority in paying for out-of-province abortions.

RELATED: Judicial review sought on P.E.I. abortion policy

Arsenault’s application also said the province failed in its duty to withhold payments for abortions.

In his application, Arsenault repeatedly cited what he called the province’s official abortion policy, which he said was set out in a motion in the legislature in 1988 and never rescinded.

That policy, he said, opposes performing abortions unless there are grounds to believe the mother’s life is endangered.

P.E.I. is the only province that doesn’t provide abortion services. Instead, P.E.I. women have to travel off-Island with the closest access to services in Moncton.

Access to abortions at the Moncton Hospital for P.E.I. started in July 2015 and eliminated the need to get referrals from two doctors, which was the case for women who previously had to travel to Halifax.

The P.E.I. government pays for the service provided to Islanders in Moncton.

Arsenault’s application is the second legal challenge the provincial government is facing over access to abortion services.

Last month, Abortion Access Now P.E.I. advised the province it would be filing an action in P.E.I. Supreme Court to challenge the government’s abortion policy.

That group argues P.E.I.’s abortion policy violates women’s rights to equal access to healthcare services and is discriminatory.

Arsenault’s application said there is no obligation to recognize abortions as essential medical procedures or to pay for them under provincial health plans.

He argued there is a duty to withhold payment for services for people who don’t medically require them.

The provincial government hadn’t filed a response to the application as of Wednesday afternoon.

Organizations: Moncton Hospital for P.E.I., Islanders

Geographic location: P.E.I., Moncton, Iceland Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Huhhum
    February 18, 2016 - 19:43

    Dr. Arsenault is only asking the courts to rule on whether our government is actually following their own policies and legislation concerning the funding of off Island abortions. A careful perusal of the Canada Health Act and the PEI Health Services Acts clearly justifies this request for a Judicial review.

  • huh?
    February 18, 2016 - 14:49

    Has this person been given any legal advice? I find it hard to believe that any lawyer would be so unprofessional as to take money from someone who so clearly has no grasp of the law and is likely to be reprimanded by the judge.

  • Spud
    February 18, 2016 - 13:53

    Like myself, many Islanders who have forgotten about the "official abortion policy of PEI" will be following this case with a keen interest. No premier has the right to push official policy and legislation to the wayside, just to appease a few vocal opponents of the rights of the unborn members of PEI. Bravo to Mr. Arsenault for having the wisdom and guts to awaken us to the historical facts and current practices on this issue.

    • IslandWoman
      February 18, 2016 - 16:35

      There is no official policy or legislation on abortion in PEI - a resolution passed in the legislature has no legal status.

  • Daniel Boudreau
    February 18, 2016 - 11:32

    This is 2016 and we are STILL fighting the battle for abortion access in PEI? Enough of the puritan ways...This is something that amazes me over and over with PEI, they want to be in the forefront when it comes to real estate and traffic management, but when it comes to human rights they are still back in the Victorian era...