Editor: In the same way that religion and spirituality act as buffers between our lives and the afterlife, a fetus exists in the grey area between living and not living. The issue of abortion blurs the established line separating life and death, and it is inherently difficult subject matter.
Most of the arguments in support of maintaining the status quo — particularly those from the P.E.I. Right to Life Association — are simply not valid reasons to warrant the restrictions that their proponents seek to impose. There should be a serious discussion around prenatal rights, as it is a valid issue in and of itself. However, the rights of a fetus, regardless of precisely what they are, are inherently subordinate to the rights of the woman within whom it resides. A developing human is obviously not dead, but it is not alive in the sense that we consider a person to be, and not insofar as to grant fetal rights precedence over women’s rights.
It has been suggested abortion access be put to a vote, but that would be an improper and unjust course of action. Abortion access is an issue of primary health care and not up for referenda. Given P.E.I.’s “small c” conservative tendencies on social issues, such a populist approach would further harm women in need. The general public does not have a vested interest in the private matters of a few. Individual rights should not be subject to a public vote.
The current level of access to abortion services fails to meet the basic criteria outlined in the Canada Health Act, which in turn violates the principles of fundamental justice enshrined in Section Seven of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Establishing proper abortion services on P.E.I., as with Justin Trudeau’s pro-choice party policy, does not encroach on anyone’s religious freedoms or their freedom of speech. Reproductive services are not a matter of conscience, nor should any health care be. Implementing the services proposed by Dr. MacQuarrie is necessary for the security of Island women, simple to implement, economically responsible, and long overdue.