P.E.I. man wants province to stop funding out-of-province abortions

A P.E.I. man has filed an application for a judicial review asking the courts to stop the provincial government from funding out-of-province therapeutic abortions.

Kevin Arsenault has filed an application for a judicial review asking the courts to step in

Kevin Arsenault has filed for a judicial review, arguing the province of P.E.I. acted outside its authority when it approved payments for out-of-province abortions. (CBC)

A P.E.I. man has filed an application for a judicial review asking the courts to stop the provincial government from funding out-of-province therapeutic abortions.

"I want it stopped, that we pay for abortions. It's unlawful to pay for them," said Kevin Arsenault, of Fort Augustus, speaking to CBC News.

In his application to the court he argues the province has acted outside its own laws by authorizing payments for abortions performed on Island women in hospitals in Halifax and in Moncton.

Surgical abortions are not performed on P.E.I. The province is facing legal action over that as well. 

Arsenault said he was moved to take legal action when the province announced arrangements with the Moncton Hospital to provide access to abortions without a referral from a doctor or Health PEI.

"When that happened, I was aware of the legislation, and didn't think the Premier had the authority under the legislation that governs our P.E.I. Health Services Plan … It's really the Moncton situation that got me to look at the legislation more carefully," said Arsenault.

'Substantive questions'

In the application, Arsenault argues that P.E.I. law requires prior approval for abortions to be paid for. He also argues P.E.I.'s laws only allow coverage for "medically required" procedures.

He suggests in the court document that the phrase "medically required" can be understood by viewing it in the light of a resolution passed in the P.E.I. legislature in 1988, which he quotes as saying, "Be it resolved that the legislative assembly of P.E.I. oppose the performing of abortions, except where there are grounds to believe the life of the mother is endangered."

Arsenault then argues therapeutic abortions are never medically necessary to save the life of the mother and maintains that the 1988 resolution remains the official abortion policy of the P.E.I. government. 

"One of the big things I really hope is the premier welcomes this opportunity to have the P.E.I. Supreme Court clarify whether he has the authority and go from there," said Arsenault.

"But I hope he doesn't get his legal team working in some way to throw it out, that I don't have standing or missed a deadline, because I think these are substantive questions that a lot of Islanders want to see the court answer." 

The province says it is reviewing the application to determine next steps.


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