An anti-abortion rally drew about 400 people to Province House Sunday morning in Charlottetown.
The annual protest — organized by the P.E.I. Catholic Women's League and the P.E.I. Right to Life Association — comes just as abortion rights activists gear up for their own demonstration Wednesday at the University of Prince Edward Island.
"It is essential at this moment of Island history that women — especially Catholic women — speak out in public protest indicating that pro-choice advocates do not speak for us," said Louise Doiron, president of the P.E.I. Catholic Women's League, in an address to the crowd.
"The majority of Island women are not pro-choice."
P.E.I. is the only province that does not offer abortion services. People have to travel off-Island for the procedure.
'Secret' about abortion
Holly Pierlot, president of the P.E.I. Right to Life Association, said she was pleased with the turnout. She says the rally gives her organization an opportunity for people to educate themselves about abortion.
Pierlot says abortion is not constitutionally guaranteed in Canada, therefore, the province doesn't have to offer it on demand.
She also says instances of women having abortions for medical reasons are rare.
"As a result, our Island government does not need to fund non-medically necessary services."
She also said one of "biggest kept secrets" about abortion is that it harms women.
"As research is done, we find that women are having long-term, negative impacts on their lives, physically, psychologically, spiritually, and that needs to come out."
Meanwhile, Amherst gynecologist Robyn MacQuarrie has offered to come to the Island periodically to perform abortions in an outpatient facility. She has worked with a group at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to create a business plan for a clinic.
She said two half-day clinics a month would likely meet the needs of P.E.I. women.
MacQuarrie says the province would actually save money by keeping the services local.
"What we're trying to do is get some answers as to why this cost-effective plan hasn't moved forward. Why it's being stuck in the provincial medical advisory committee," said MacQuarrie.
"I hope that people get out and access this issue and talk with their local government officials about what they'd like to see happen," she said Sunday.