PEI

Abortion Access Now PEI happy about plans for Women's Wellness Centre

Women will soon be able to access abortions on P.E.I., and a group that fought to have the service on the Island is celebrating.

PEI Right to Life Association will continue to protest

Abortions and other women's health services will be available at Prince County Hospital by the end of the month. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Women will soon be able to access abortions on P.E.I., and a group that fought to have the service on the Island is celebrating.

Health PEI announced Tuesday that some new services, including surgical abortions, will be available at Prince County Hospital by the end of the month.

On Tuesday evening, Abortion Access Now PEI, a group that fought for abortion access, and threatened legal action against the province last year, held a meeting to learn more about the plans for the new Women's Wellness Centre.

"That's absolutely wonderful news for us. I think it's been a long time coming," said Ann Wheatley, co-chair of Abortion Access Now PEI.

Ann Wheatley, co-chair of Abortion Access Now PEI, said she is very happy to hear about the plans for the new Women's Wellness Centre. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

At the meeting, Kathy Jones, director of public health, women's wellness and children's developmental services with Health PEI, spoke about the plans for the Women's Wellness Centre, and what people can expect in the coming year.

Many services

As well as surgical abortions, Health PEI will introduce counseling for pregnancy options as well as birth control counseling by month end.

More services will be added over the next year, including prenatal care, menopause care, and coordination of fertility services.

Sandy Kowalik, secretary of Abortion Access Now PEI, said she is very happy to hear about the wide variety of services that will be offered.

"It's just a very thorough thing that they're doing to look at all of women's wellness," said Kowalik.  

The services will eventually be offered at the new Women's Health Centre. Until that centre is built, they will be offered in a temporary location in Prince County Hospital.

Right to Life Association will continue to hold rallies

Nicole Dupuis, executive director of PEI Right to Life Association said while she is not happy that abortions will soon be available on P.E.I., she is pleased tro hear about the other services that will be offered, such as counseling.

"I saw on their website as well that they will be allowing women to see the other options such as choosing life for their child and adoption as well. So we're please that counseling is available for that, and we hope that women will take the necessary time needed to make an appropriate decision," said Dupuis.

Nicole Dupuis with PEI Right to Life Association said she is glad that counseling services will be available. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

She said PEI Right to Life Association will continue to hold rallies and plan other campaigns to promote their cause. 

Surgical abortions up to 12 weeks

Abortions will be available to women up to 12 weeks gestation. If a woman was further along in her pregnancy, and wanted an abortion, she would have to go off Island. 

In any situation where a termination service, or abortion service, is being offered, you really rely on the comfort level of your providers.- Kathy Jones, Health PEI

Surgical abortions are offered in Moncton up to 14 weeks gestation.

Jones said the decision to offer abortions only up to 12 weeks was based on research into programs across the country, as well as the comfort of the providers.

"In any situation where a termination service, or abortion service, is being offered, you really rely on the comfort level of your providers," said Jones.

"Most programs across the country do go to approximately 12 to 14 weeks. So that is fairly standard," added Jones.

Jones said several staff have been hired to provide the new services. Some full time, and some part time.

Security and privacy

Jones said security and privacy of patients is a big priority as Health PEI prepares to offer these new services.

She said Health PEI consulted with outside experts about security measures that could be taken within the hospital, and also looked at what systems other hospitals have in place throughout the country.

Kathy Jones, with Health PEI, said patient privacy and security is a top priority. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"We're looking at things like, as much as possible that can happen in the program, including patient registration, happens within the program, as opposed to a woman having to go to a general admitting area or something like that," said Jones.

"We're trying to keep as much privacy as we possibly can to ensure a woman's comfort."

'Monitoring closely'

While members of Abortion Access Now PEI are celebrating, the group will continue to operate.

The group held it's Annual General Meeting following Jones' presentation, and members discussed the group's plans going forward.

"From now on I think what we'll be doing is really watching how the service rolls out, how accessible it is for all of the women of P.E.I., and if it's meeting everybody's needs," said Wheatley.

"So we'll be monitoring it pretty closely."