nel­lie grams

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to sue the P.E.I. gov­ern­ment over its re­fusal to pro­vide abor­tions in Canada’s smallest prov­ince.  “Un­for­tu­nately, it is clear to us that noth­ing short of a court order will prompt the gov­ern­ment to com­ply with its obli­ga­tions to P.E.I. res­i­dents un­der the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms,” said Abor­tion Ac­cess Now spokes­woman Ann Wheat­ley.

Is­land women have been fight­ing for over two decades for safe, le­gal ac­cess to abor­tion.On Jan­uary 28, 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Sec­tion 251 of the Crim­i­nal Code, which stip­u­lated that women must seek per­mis­sion from hospi­tal ther­a­peu­tic abor­tion com­mit­tees to have a med­i­cally in­sured abor­tion, was un­con­sti­tu­tional. Such re­stric­tions, the court ruled, caused de­lays and threat­ened women’s health. As such, they were a vi­o­la­tion of women’s right to life, lib­erty and se­cu­rity of the per­son guar­an­teed un­der Sec­tion 7 of the Cana­dian Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms.

The Women’s Le­gal Ed­u­ca­tion and Ac­tion Fund (LEAF) will pro­vide fi­nan­cial back­ing the le­gal fight for abor­tion ac­cess in P.E.I.

“We are ac­tively fundrais­ing for the money that we’re go­ing to need,” an­nounced Kim Stan­ton, le­gal di­rec­tor for LEAF, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that di­rects its le­gal re­sources to equal­ity rights cases af­fect­ing women. “As a non-profit, we don’t have that $100,000 that we’ll likely need on hand, there’s no ques­tion.”

P.E.I. pays for abor­tions if res­i­dents travel to Halifax, but does not re­im­burse them for travel or other re­lated costs.

“P.E.I. ’spol­icy un­law­fully dis­crim­i­nates on the ba­sis of sex and preg­nancy be­cause it ex­cludes abor­tion, which is a ba­sic health care ser­vice re­quired by women from the health care ser­vices of­fered in P.E.I.,” said Stan­ton.

There are no crim­i­nal laws re­strict­ing ac­cess to abor­tion in Canada. Abor­tions are cov­ered by pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial health in­sur­ance plans un­der the Canada Health Act.All prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries ex­cept P.E.I. pro­vide abor­tion ser­vices. Abor­tions were avail­able in a pri­vate clinic owned by Henry Mor­gen­taler but it closed in 2014.

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