P.E.I. abortion access questioned in House of Commons

While pro-choice activists marched through Charlottetown's streets to protest the a lack of abortion services on P.E.I., the issue received some attention in the House of Commons Tuesday.

P.E.I. is the only province that does not provide surgical abortions

Sheila Malcolmson is the MP for Nanaimo—Ladysmith. (Twitter)

While pro-choice activists marched through Charlottetown's streets to protest the lack of abortion services on P.E.I., the issue received some attention in the House of Commons Tuesday.

It came in the form of a question from the NDP MP from Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Sheila Malcolmson, who said the service must be available to all Canadian women.

"Women in places like P.E.I. do not have access to abortion services and they should," Macolmson said. "A commitment to women's rights must be more than talk and promises; it must mean concrete action."

Malcolmson followed that up by asking Canada's Health Minister Jane Philpott to guarantee that every woman in every region of the country has access to abortion services.

Philpott did not commit to that, but reiterated the Liberal government's support for a woman's right to choose. She pointed out that abortion is not the only service not available across the country.

"There are inequities in access to a number of health services across the country, including abortion," she said.

"There should be access to all medically-necessary services on the basis of need and not on the basis of ability to pay. I will continue to work with my colleagues to make sure access is available to all Canadians."

After she was appointed last fall, Philpott did say "Our government will examine ways to better equalize access for all Canadian women," but no details have been forthcoming since.  

P.E.I. is the only province that does not provide surgical abortions, although it will pay for the service in Moncton, N.B. and Halifax.

Last June, the province made changes to make access to abortion easier, allowing women to call and book their abortion in Moncton without a P.E.I. doctor's referral.

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