Demonstrators call for better abortion access

Demonstrators in Charlottetown walked through the city streets urging people to join in their efforts to get better access to abortion services in P.E.I.

P.E.I. is the only province in Canada where a woman cannot get an abortion

Prince Edward Islanders looking for better access to abortion rallied in Charlottetown on Saturday.

About 80 demonstrators marched through the city streets calling on Island politicians to listen to their call for more abortion services on P.E.I.

"You can't impose a religious belief on the population as a whole," said Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. "You have to protect and defend their rights. Their constitutional rights and the access to health care."

Right now Prince Edward Island is the only province in Canada without abortion services but the Island government does cover the cost of out-of-province abortions.

Organizers of the demonstration say that isn't good enough. They say many young women can't travel to Halifax or elsewhere and often take drastic measures themselves to terminate their pregnancies.

"Especially women who may be in financial difficulty or who perhaps just don't want to let other people know that they're having to go for this service," said Bethany Toombs of the P.E.I. Reproductive Rights Organization.

Dr. Colleen MacQuarrie is studying the effects of P.E.I.'s abortion policy.

"Without local, safe access, women are finding ways to have abortions," said Dr. McQuarrie. "It's just that it's always resulted in some level of harm."

The rally was one of several in Canada all calling for equal abortion access.

P.E.I. Health Minister Doug Currie said he won't bow to pressure from groups on either side of the abortion debate. He sees funding abortions in Halifax as a fair compromise.