Access to Abortion Needs to Be Improved Now
For immediate release
Oct. 20 National Day for Reproductive Justice Highlights Access Gaps in Maritimes and Across Canada for Abortion and Sexual and Reproductive Health Services
NATIONAL – A coalition of groups and individuals across the country is calling upon governments across Canada to take immediate steps to improve access to abortion and other sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in neglected regions of Canada – particularly the Maritimes, the North, rural areas, and on First Nations reserves.
“It’s time to change the debate by talking about how to improve access to healthcare, not restrict it like some anti-choice Members of Parliament want to do,” said Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), the group leading the ad hoc coalition behind the Oct 20 day.
“On October 20, we are demanding that governments across the country start ensuring that abortion care and sexual and reproductive health services are available and accessible to every person who needs them, including women, youth, transgendered persons, and men. We also need to reduce unwanted pregnancy, the main cause of abortion, by making contraception widely available and covered by Medicare.”
At the top of the ad hoc coalition’s list of demands is fully-funded abortion services on request in Prince Edward Island. [see page 3 of this release, or http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/action/RJ-day-demands.pdf] “PEI is the only province still violating the law by failing to provide any abortion care inside its borders, forcing women to travel to Halifax or Fredericton for care,” said Arthur. “This creates real hardship and injustice for women, especially those who are young, low-income, aboriginal, and immigrant.” Last November, a research project conducted by Dr. Colleen MacQuarrie at UPEI found that many women have even tried to do dangerous self-abortions on themselves.
Some PEI women are able to arrange an abortion in Halifax paid for by the PEI government, but the process can be time-consuming and difficult to navigate for many women. Many more women end up paying around $800 to have an abortion at the Morgentaler Clinic in
Fredericton NB. They are forced to pay out of pocket because New Brunswick refuses to fund the clinic, even though Health Canada in 1995 mandated full funding for abortion care at both hospitals and private clinics.
“Abortion is a simple procedure that doesn’t require a lot of resources to provide, so the PEI government has no excuse to not provide it on the Island,” said Arthur. “Our message to PEI Premier Robert Ghiz and Health Minister Doug Currie is: Enough! Women in Prince Edward Island have the same rights as women in other provinces. You should be ashamed of yourselves for needlessly risking the health and lives of PEI women in deference to a so-called ‘pro-life’ ideology. Stop hurting and punishing women and start helping them instead!”
Other leading groups in the ad hoc coalition for the Oct 20 Reproductive Justice Day include the PEI Reproductive Rights Organization (PRRO), and the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics (OCAC).
- The flagship event for the national day takes place in Charlottetown, with a kick-off press conference on Friday Oct 19 (12:15pm, Room 125, Royalty Centre, 40 Enman Crescent, Charlottetown), and a march and “Action Station” event on Oct 20 (1-4pm, Rochford Square & Murphy’s Community Centre).
- Another signature event for the national day takes place in Toronto on Oct 20 – a rally from 1-3pm at Old City Hall, 60 Queen Street West.
See our website: http://oct20rjday.wordpress.com for more information on reproductive justice and the October 20 day, as well as details on events across the country.
|Joyce Arthur||Executive Director, ARCC-CDAC, Vancouver||604-351-0867|
|Dr. Suzanne Newman||Abortion provider, Women’s Hospital, Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg||204-477-1887|
|Carolyn Egan||Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics, Toronto||416-806-7985|
|Peggy Cooke||ARCC-CDAC, Toronto||416-709-1457|
|Josie Baker||PEI Abortion Rights Network, Charlottetown||902-368-7337|
|Christopher Kaposy, PhD||Ethicist, Memorial University, St. Johns NL||709-777-2338 (w)|
|Tara Paterson (student/youth issues)||Synergy Coordinator, Victoria http://arccsynergy.wordpress.com||250-893-4158|