Anti-abor­tion groups de­nounce law­suit

P.E.I. Right to Life As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent says prov­ince should fight to keep abor­tion off P.E.I.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY TERESA WRIGHT twright@the­guardian.pe.ca

A spokes­woman for an an­tiabor­tion group in P.E.I. says she be­lieves the P.E.I. gov­ern­ment should fight the law­suit filed against the prov­ince over its re­fusal to pro­vide abor­tion ser­vices.

Holly Pier­lot, pres­i­dent of the P.E.I. Right to Life As­so­ci­a­tion, says the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms and the Crim­i­nal Code of Canada may not cur­rently pro­tect the rights of an un­born fe­tus, but she be­lieves there is lan­guage in the char­ter that would al­low for a new in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the cur­rent laws.

“The very fact that Canada doesn’t like to call cer­tain peo­ple hu­man from time to time, be it women or the pre-born, in their crim­i­nal law, un­til such time as that is changed it doesn’t really mat­ter. We all know full well this is a hu­man child,” Pier­lot said.

“I would like to say (the char­ter) can be chal­lenged it­self. It says ev­ery­one is en­ti­tled to equal pro­tec­tion un­der the law, re­gard­less of age. I think science is pretty clear that there’s an age of a child in the womb. Just be­cause the Crim­i­nal Code says the child has to be fully sep­a­rated, that’s a dif­fer­ent is­sue than what’s in the char­ter. So I think even that can be con­tested.”

On Tues­day, Abor­tion Ac­cess Now P.E.I., a lo­cal ad­vo­cacy group that re­cently in­cor­po­rated in the prov­ince, gave the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral the re­quired 90-day no­tice of its in­tent to file an ac­tion in the Supreme Court of Prince Ed­ward Is­land against the P.E.I. gov­ern­ment.

Kim Sta­ton, le­gal di­rec­tor for the Women’s Le­gal Ed­u­ca­tion and Ac­tion Fund, a na­tional, equal­ity rights or­ga­ni­za­tion sup­port­ing the lo­cal group’s lit­i­ga­tion, says this Supreme Court ac­tion will be a char­ter chal­lenge and an ad­min­is­tra­tive law chal­lenge.

“In our view, P.E.I.’s abor­tion pol­icy vi­o­lates the right of Is­land women to equal ac­cess to health care ser­vices un­der the equal­ity rights pro­vi­sions of the char­ter,” Sta­ton said.

But Pier­lot says the prov­ince has ju­ris­dic­tion un­der the Canada Health Act to de­ter­mine what health ser­vices are pub­licly funded and by what means.

“The prov­ince is re­quired to fund only med­i­cally nec­es­sary ser­vices, and abor­tion is rarely that. Pro-choicers call it a ‘choice,’ and the gov­ern­ment is not re­quired to fund merely elec­tive pro­ce­dures ei­ther.”

Cam­paign Life Coali­tion, a na­tional anti-abor­tion group, also weighed in Wed­nes­day, ac­cus­ing the lo­cal abor­tion ad­vo­cacy group of try­ing to thwart provin­cial ju­ris­dic­tion by try­ing to use the courts to force the prov­ince to pro­vide abor­tions, “purely be­cause of their brand of moral­ity that sees abor­tion as so­cially de­sir­able,” said spokes­woman Alissa Golob.

“Abor­tion is not a dis­ease or ill­ness and is not a med­i­cal ne­ces­sity. There­fore this law­suit has no merit and the Prince Ed­ward Is­land gov­ern­ment has ev­ery right not to pro­vide abor­tion,” Golob said.

A spokesper­son for the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice of P.E.I. says gov­ern­ment is care­fully re­view­ing the ma­te­rial to be filed and “will re­spond ac­cord­ingly in due course.”

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