P.E.I. abortion policy needs clarity, says group

Abortion rights activists in P.E.I. are using the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion to urge the province, the only one in Canada where abortions are not performed, to clarify its position on the issue.

Group wants resolution stating "life begins at conception" rescinded

Members of the Abortion Rights Network mark the anniversary of the Morgentaler decision with cupcakes, balloons and cranberry juice at P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz's office. (CBC)

Abortions right activists in P.E.I. are using Monday's 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that decrimininalized abortion to urge the province to clarify its position on the issue.

P.E.I. is the only province where abortions are not performed. The province will pay for abortions at the hospital in Halifax, but it does not cover travel expenses.

Members of the P.E.I. Abortion Rights Network are concerned that the last official word from the province on abortion was Resolution 17, which was passed a few months after the 1988 Morgentaler decision.

P.E.I.'s position on abortion is embarrassing, says Josie Baker of the Abortion Rights Network. (CBC)

The resolution states "life begins at conception, and any policy that permits abortion is unacceptable." The resolution was sent to the three major federal parties at the time - the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, and NDP – calling on them to pass "legislation consistent with the intent of this Resolution."

There has been nothing since to rescind any part of Resolution 17. When asked in 2011 to reconsider the province's policies, Premier Robert Ghiz said he felt the province had struck a good balance with regard to access to abortions.

"We have to wonder, is Resolution 17 still governing our province," said Abortion Right Network member Josie Baker.

"It is actually embarrassing, in a Canadian context, that 25 years after the Supreme Court of Canada found that restricting women's access to abortion violated their human rights, that in Prince Edward Island Premier Ghiz is still playing politics with this issue."

Members of the P.E.I. Abortion Rights Network arrived at Ghiz's office Monday with cupcakes and balloons to mark the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision.

Ghiz was out of the country Monday, and not able to meet with the Abortion Rights Network. He has not responded to a letter from the group sent Jan. 15, which asks for a new resolution setting out government's current abortion policy.

The Abortion Rights Network members said they're ashamed the province is the only one where abortions aren't performed, but say they'll keep pushing, and hope the situation will have changed by the 26th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision.