PEI

Pro-choice activists on P.E.I. rally for access to service

About 50 people gathered outside Province House in Charlottetown to push for more access to abortion.

P.E.I. is the only province in Canada where abortions are not performed

Dozens of people gathered outside Province House in Charlottetown Saturday to push for more access to abortion. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

About 50 people gathered outside Province House in Charlottetown to push for more access to abortion. 

The rally was held by Pro Choice P.E.I. as part of a national day of action on reproductive justice.

Isaac Williams is behind the effort and says he's hoping to arrange monthly or bi-monthly events throughout the winter.

"For years now, the respective sides have held protests once or twice a year — but other than that, there was nothing to build upon it. So my hope is that we'll be able to do enough to keep building from where we are today and not let things simmer down again," he says.

Colleen MacQuarrie, who helped organize an international conference on abortion at UPEI in August, says it's important to remind leaders that activists won't become complacent on the issue.

"Women are continuing to need the service, are continuing to need support with travelling away from P.E.I. and in some cases are finding themselves in desperate situations. So we don't really have the luxury of not continuing it because women's lives demand it," she says.

P.E.I. is the only province in Canada where legal abortions are not performed. Abortions are funded by the province's health care systems, but women must travel to the mainland for the procedure.

In May, Premier Robert Ghiz said he respects everyone's opinion but there is no plan to make any changes.

"So anything I can do as an individual to further the discussion on P.E.I. and help people communicate and connect, and just keep them talking about it will be something that will be worthwhile for me," says Williams.
    
Earlier this month, Dr. Deborah Zeni, of the deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, was brought to the Island by the P.E.I. Right to Life Association to discuss the institute's book, which outlines research it says shows the short-term and long-term complications that can arise following an abortion. 

However, MacQuarrie’s research argues restricting access to abortions has a negative impact on Island women's health.

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