P.E.I. ap­proach to abor­tion ‘bla­tantly un­con­sti­tu­tional,’ group says

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE -

The Abor­tion Rights Coali­tion of Canada is strongly sup­port­ing the con­sti­tu­tional le­gal chal­lenge that will be launched in 90 days against the P.E.I. pro­vin­cial govern­ment by a lo­cal pro-choice group.

Abor­tion Ac­cess Now P.E.I. an­nounced its in­ten­tion to sue the govern­ment on Tues­day. There has been no abor­tion ser­vices on the Is­land since 1982.

“P.E.I. has been openly hos­tile to women’s right to ac­ces­si­ble abor­tion for far too long,” said Joyce Arthur, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Abor­tion Rights Coali­tion of Canada. “The prov­ince’s abor­tion re­stric­tions were en­acted in open de­fi­ance of the Supreme Court of Canada’s de­ci­sion in Jan­uary 1988.”

The court threw out al­most the ex­act same type of re­stric­tion that P.E.I. then passed – a re­quire­ment to get pre-ap­proval from at least one doc­tor be­fore get­ting an abor­tion.

Arthur said that an­other pro­vin­cial regulation was en­acted at the time to limit funded abor­tions to hospi­tals, “with no ob­jec­tive other than to stop Dr. Mor­gen­taler from open­ing a clinic in P.E.I.”

“The ex­tent to which the prov­ince has been bla­tantly vi­o­lat­ing women’s Char­ter rights for 30 years is shock­ing,” said Josie Baker, who is a spoke­woman and board mem­ber for the na­tional group, as well as a found­ing mem­ber of Abor­tion Ac­cess Now P.E.I.

The coali­tion says the re­stric­tions are also dis­crim­i­na­tory, be­cause they tar­get a health ser­vice that only women need, as well as some trans­gen­der peo­ple.

“We’re ex­cited about this law­suit and glad that the P.E.I. govern­ment will fi­nally be held to ac­count for its de­lib­er­ate in­flic­tion of harm and stigma onto women over decades,” said Arthur.

“We’re very con­fi­dent that women will win and the P.E.I. govern­ment will lose. No pro­vin­cial govern­ment has any le­gal au­thor­ity to dis­crim­i­nate on the ba­sis of gen­der, or deny con­sti­tu­tional rights to women and other his­tor­i­cally marginal­ized pop­u­la­tions.”

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