The P.E.I. government needs to consider all the costs when making arguments about not providing abortion services in the province, says the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

'There are plenty of girls and women who have tried to self-induce, and that has its own cost.' — Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

P.E.I. is the only province which does not provide abortion services. The government will pay for the service, but Islanders must have the abortion performed on the mainland. Health Minister Doug Currie said last week abortions are one of a number of health services the Island has chosen not to perform locally to save resources.

In a letter to Doug Currie, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association says that argument may seem reasonable, but it doesn't acknowledge the cost of not providing abortions in the province.

"There are plenty of girls and women who have tried to self-induce, and that has its own cost to them, but also health costs that would need to be evaluated," Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, director of the equality program for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association told CBC News Monday.

"Some of them may end up having pregnancies that they don't want, which are going to involve pre-natal costs, post-natal costs, labour, delivery, which of course are going to be far, far greater than providing abortion services."

The Civil Liberties Association also asked the minister to eliminate the need for Island women to receive a doctor's referral to have her off-island abortion paid for. The group calls that a "prohibitive and discriminatory" barrier standing in the way of a "time-sensitive medical procedure."

Abortion services need clarification

The P.E.I. Medical Society has asked the province to provide clarification for Island doctors on what the protocol is when a woman says she wants an abortion.

In order to get one paid for by the province off-island at the QE2 in Halifax, a woman needs a doctor's referral. The other option is the woman pays about $800 herself at a private clinic in Fredericton.

Dr. Richard Wedge, executive director of medical affairs for Health PEI, agrees some further education of physicians is warranted.

"I suspect there's a number of physicians out there who are unaware of the services that are available and the different avenues that are available," said Wedge.

"I suspect there are physicians out there who are unsure of the follow up required for these women as well. I think more work needs to be done with physicians on P.E.I. to make them aware."

The Medical Society isn't commenting on its request, but some women have complained recently in the media that they weren't presented with all the options by their physician.