Reproductive rights group declares Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Party to be anti-choice
For immediate release
“It’s time to end this 7-year reign of hostility to reproductive rights and health.”
On October 3, 2023, Manitobans head to the polls. During its seven-year tenure, the Progressive Conservative Party has shown its disregard for reproductive healthcare in Manitoba, even granting ministerial roles to vocal anti-choice individuals.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada classifies the Progressive Party of Manitoba as an anti-choice government and strongly encourages Manitobans to elect a government that will advance reproductive healthcare in the province.
Upon assuming government in 2016, the Minister for Health refused to answer questions regarding reproductive healthcare and instead referred inquiries to the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, despite the Health Minister controlling healthcare delivery and funding. “Declaring reproductive healthcare as a women’s issue neglects that abortion is a medically essential service under the Canada Health Act and is exclusionary to transgender and non-binary individuals who require reproductive healthcare,” said Paige Mason, President of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.
Further, Mason said: “The PCs have sided with anti-choice protesters over the safety of patients and healthcare providers by refusing to pass The Abortion Protest Buffer Zone Act.” Since 2018, NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine has repeatedly introduced buffer zone bills that would establish protest-free zones around clinics and healthcare facilities that offer abortion services. In May 2022, Fontaine introduced the bill for the fifth time and the PCs once again voted against the bill. In 2021, prior to the bill being introduced for the third time, former Health Minister and current Premier Heather Stefanson defended the PC stance, claiming the bill infringes on free speech despite buffer zone laws in other provinces being upheld by the courts as constitutional.
The PCs were resistant to providing universal access to the abortion pill Mifegymiso in 2019 after every other province had already been covering the cost. Medical students in Manitoba started a campaign to urge the government to provide universal coverage and only after a protest was scheduled did the PCs announce in Oct 2019 they would begin to fund the entire cost of the pill.
The PCs gave almost $17,000 to the Pembina Valley Crisis Pregnancy Centre, when such funding should have been allocated to actual reproductive healthcare clinics such as the Women’s Health Clinic, which had to turn away 500 people seeking abortions in 2022 as it was over capacity. “Crisis pregnancy centres spread misinformation on abortion and sexual health issues and/or fail to disclose their anti-choice or religious agenda,” said Mason
The Manitoba NDP and the Manitoba Liberal Party have both committed to no-cost contraception if elected. However, the PCs have made no mention of improving access or lowering the cost of contraception despite cost being the most significant barrier to contraception usage. Also, research shows that the cost of providing universal coverage for birth control results in long-term savings.
“The PC’s record has demonstrated they do not believe reproductive healthcare is essential or worthy of attention,” said Mason. “They have continually put reproductive issues on the backburner, resulting in little to no improvement for abortion access in Manitoba. It’s time to end this 7-year reign of hostility to reproductive rights and health.”