Abortion activists keep pressure on P.E.I. government

Pro-choice activists were lobbying the P.E.I. government Tuesday with a petition and a protest outside the legislature, seeking local access to abortion services.

Petition for in-province abortion services tabled in legislature

Activists gathered outside the P.E.I. Legislature while abortion was discussed inside the house for the first time in years. (CBC)

Pro-choice activists were lobbying the P.E.I. government Tuesday with a petition and a protest outside the legislature, seeking local access to abortion services.

P.E.I. is the only province in the country where surgical abortions are not performed. The province will pay for them but women have to travel to the mainland.

The government recently made arrangements to make abortions available at Moncton Hospital without a referral, but the pro-choice activists are pressing for more.

The pro-choice activists were also celebrating having an advocate in the legislature for the first time. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker stood to ask Health Minister Doug Currie about the issue.

"While these measures represent a significant improvement on the situation and I commend the government for these steps, it was also implied they were simply the first step towards better overall health services for Island women," said Bevan-Baker.

"A question to the minister of health and wellness: what are these next steps?"

Abortion has not been the subject of any sort of debate inside the legislature in recent decades. Since 1996 the word abortion has only been uttered three times inside the house.

More than 1,000 sign petition

Health Minister Doug Currie says there is planning underway for a new women's health clinic. (Province of P.E.I.)
Currie did not outline the next step on abortion, but revealed government is considering a clinic to provide other women's health services.

"Midwifery, looking at supports in areas of post-partum, so the women's health centre concept is certainly being looked at," he said.

After question period, Peter Bevan-Baker tabled a petition with more than 1,000 signatures, calling for local access to abortion.

Outside the legislature there was a demonstration in support of Island women's right to access abortion services.

The activists say their long campaign isn't over. They'll keep trying to pressure government, until Island women no longer have to leave the province for an abortion.

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