There were some raised eyebrows when it was first announced that Charlottetown would host Canada’s first-ever international abortion and reproductive justice conference. After all, this is the only province where abortions are “officially” not performed. Women must go to Halifax after getting medical support from two doctors, where the province will pay for the cost of the procedure. The private Morgentaler clinic is Fredericton, N.B., had offered another option, but it closed in July.
Obviously, it is the intent of organizers to direct national and international attention on restrictions impacting Island women as the lobby continues for the province to change its mind and offer abortions here. They could easily be provided at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown and Prince County in Summerside.
Anyone reading this newspaper in recent months is well aware of the heated debate raging on the editorial and opinion pages on the abortion issue. The province is holding firm and so far has refused to budge from the status quo.
The theme of the conference serves notice that the debate is far from over. ‘Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution International Conference’ takes place Aug. 7 and 8 at the University of Prince Edward Island. This province is clearly the target of a powerful pro-choice lobby.
Just as vocal and with a majority opinion on its side — based on the number of letters and op ed pieces— is the pro-life side. In various churches across the province this past Sunday, the call to action was issued — through prayer, peaceful opposition to the conference, and to maintain pressure on the province not to relent.
Apart from the province hosting an abortion conference, it was also surprising to see it hosted at UPEI, a heavily taxpayer-subsidized public institution. One would have thought that a more “neutral” facility would have been selected. The university prides itself as a haven for free speech and thoughtful argument, and is reluctant to interfere with professors’ academic freedoms. But it could easily be argued that the abortion issue is well beyond the realm of academia and enters into legal and deeply moral issues. It remains to be seen if the university pays a price for hosting this conference.
Music, oysters mix well
There was a fair degree of skepticism when the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival joined with P.E.I. 2014 Inc. to announce a special attraction for the 50th edition of the shellfish-themed summer party in West Prince. The Rock the Boat Music Festival caused some people to shrug their shoulders and wonder who was going to drive to the Tyne Valley area. Well, it turns out that approximately 5,000 avid music fans did just that. It certainly helped there was a stellar lineup headlined by Blue Rodeo, Alan Doyle and Jimmy Rankin. And when you add the local excitement of oyster shucking and successful events already associated with the festival, the ingredients were there to produce the sleeper entertainment hit of the season. You combine perfect weather, superb entertainers and an energized crowd, and it makes for a can’t-miss combination. The concert was so successful at Green Park that organizers are eagerly looking forward to a second edition next year. Local volunteers got behind the event, determined to make it a success and show the rest of the province and naysayers that things can get done properly in West Prince. Kudos are warranted for P.E.I. 2014 Inc. who did take a gamble with monetary support for the festival, further validating its decision to spread 150th anniversary celebrations around the province instead of concentrating events in Charlottetown.