P.E.I. approach to abortion ‘blatantly unconstitutional,' group says

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 9, 2016

An enthusiastic group took part in a rally Tuesday outside the legislature adding their voice to the call for government to end Prince Edward Island's dubious distinction as the lone province in Canada where surgical abortions are not available.

©Jim Day/The Guardian

Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada strongly supporting constitutional legal challenge by local advocates

The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada is strongly supporting the constitutional legal challenge that will be launched in 90 days against the P.E.I. provincial government by a local pro-choice group.

Abortion Access Now P.E.I. announced its intention to sue the government on Tuesday.There has been no abortion services on the Island since 1982.

“P.E.I. has been openly hostile to women’s right to accessible abortion for far too long,” said Joyce Arthur, executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. “The province’s abortion restrictions were enacted in open defiance of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in January 1988.”

The court threw out almost the exact same type of restriction that P.E.I. then passed a requirement to get pre-approval from at least one doctor before getting an abortion.

Arthur said that another provincial regulation was enacted at the time to limit funded abortions to hospitals, “with no objective other than to stop Dr. Morgentaler from opening a clinic in P.E.I.”

“The extent to which the province has been blatantly violating women’s Charter rights for 30 years is shocking,” said Josie Baker, who is a spokewoman and board member for the national group, as well as a founding member of Abortion Access Now P.E.I.

The coalition says the restrictions are also discriminatory, because they target a health service that only women need, as well as some transgender people.

“We’re excited about this lawsuit and glad that the P.E.I. government will finally be held to account for its deliberate infliction of harm and stigma onto women over decades,” said Arthur. “We’re very confident that women will win and the P.E.I. government will lose. No provincial government has any legal authority to discriminate on the basis of gender, or deny constitutional rights to women and other historically marginalized populations.”