National women's rights group backing P.E.I. abortion case

The national non-profit women's rights group LEAF is offering its expertise and fundraising to Abortion Access Now PEI, which plans to sue the P.E.I. government over lack of access to abortion on the Island.

PEI Right to Life Association says there's no constitutional right to abortion in Canada

Groups began to come together in 2011 to change P.E.I.'s abortion services policy. (CBC)
The national non-profit women's rights group LEAF is offering its expertise and fundraising to Abortion Access Now PEI.

The local group is planning to sue the P.E.I. government over the lack of access to abortion on the Island. 

"We have provided the, sort of, seed money for the case, and we are actively fundraising for the money that we're going to need," said Kim Stanton, legal director for the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund, or LEAF.
LEAF will need to fundraise to get the money for the abortion access lawsuit on P.E.I., says legal director Kim Stanton. (UBC)

"As a non-profit we don't have that $100,000 that we'll likely need on hand, there's no question."

LEAF believes the off-Island abortion services currently available to P.E.I. women violates their rights and the case looks like a viable charter challenge, Stanton said.

LEAF has been working on equal rights and reproductive justice in Canada throughout its 30-year history. It  has intervened in multiple high-profile Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms cases over the years.

'Travel for medical is inevitable'

The PEI Right to Life Association, however, reiterated its position that there's no constitutional right to abortion in Canada.

"It is within provincial jurisdiction and in line with the Canada Health Act to determine which services are funded publicly and by what means," president Holly Pierlot said in a written statement.

"In such a small province, travel for medical treatment is inevitable. But additionally, the province is required to fund only medically necessary services, and abortion is rarely that.

"In fact, pro-choicers call it a 'choice', and the government is not required to fund merely elective procedures either."

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