PEI is still the only province in Canada that does not provide abortion services. They do pay for off Island abortions in accredited hospitals, but not in clinics. In order to go to an off-Island hospital, you need a doctors referral and approval of a Health department bureaucrat.
The PEI Abortion Network was established to lobby government to improve services and fight anti-choice groups, but has been contacted by women looking for assistance. This despite not having an web page or official contact intact information.
In an interview with CBC, Colleen MacQuarrie talked about the issue.
“They still somehow find us. We’re really concerned about how many women must be falling through the cracks because we’re not easy to find,” said MacQuarrie.
“She contacts us when the system has broken down, and a physician has refused to give her any information, or she gets a referral but she has absolutely no money and no way of getting [to Halifax for an abortion].”
MacQuarrie said the P.E.I. Medical Society should provide more information for doctors on what to do if they don’t want to refer a woman to have an abortion in Halifax.
“I was hopeful that with the attention that happened in 2011-2012, and specifically with the Medical Society instructing physicians that they can no longer turn women away, that physicians must at least give women referral information,” she said.
“I’m surprised women are still not getting that.”
Having women provided with the information they need at the doctor’s office would be big step in the right direction said MacQuarrie. She also would like to see more information on the availability of medical abortions by prescription on P.E.I.
At the same time, this year’s National Pro-Life Conference is being held in Charlottetown and leaders are claiming that the situation in PEI should not change, and indeed should be emulated by other provinces.
Abortion is a critical health care issue for women, and we must continue to campaign for PEI to provide this service without requiring women to leave the province.