On May 28, 2014, the National Abortion Federation held a press conference in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in an effort to bring abortion services to the island (here and here). The following letter was delivered to the government.

May 28, 2014

Premier Robert W.J. Ghiz premier@gov.pe.ca

Minister Doug W. Currie dwcurrie@gov.pe.ca

Dear Premier Ghiz and Minister Currie,

In R.v Morgentaler (1988) the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that access to abortion is fundamental to women’s right to health and to health care. This right is protected by sections 2 (freedom of conscience) and 7 (protection of life, liberty and security) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Dr. Wedge, the Chief Executive Officer of the Executive Leadership Team for Health PEI, recognizes this: when he was the Executive Director of Medical Affairs for Health PEI he said that “[t]he Supreme Court has said that access to legal abortions is a medically necessary service. So you can’t legislate against it, because the Supreme Court would just strike it down. If someone has the skills to provide a medically necessary service, then what basis would you have to deny it?”

Yet despite women’s clear and constitutionally protected entitlement to accessible reproductive health care services, the Province of Prince Edward Island has failed over the course of many years to provide access to pregnancy termination in the province. Until recently, the public justification for this failure has been the claim there are no physicians willing and able to provide the service in the province. For example, Health PEI has stated that there is no regulatory or legal impediment to the provision of abortions in PEI hospitals. The implication here is that no abortions are provided in PEI because no physicians are willing to provide them. Further, Richard Wedge has been quoted by CBC News saying “If a physician applied for privileges to do abortions on PEI and they had the skills, the training necessary to do it, then they could get privileges for that on PEI.” The implication here is that no abortions are provided in PEI because no off-island physicians are willing to provide them.

These claims are problematic for several reasons. First, there are at least three physicians willing to provide pregnancy terminations in PEI. The problem is that they cannot simply offer to provide pregnancy terminations and then begin to do so. They need hospital privileges and access to the hospital resources (e.g., space, staff, equipment, supplies, lab services, diagnostic imaging services). Further, it is important to note that efforts to address these barriers appear to be stalled within Health PEI. A proposal has been developed for the establishment of a Termination of Pregnancy Service in PEI and has been approved within the hospital where it would reside and put before the PEI Medical Advisory Committee. However, it has not been moved forward by that Committee.

More recently, a second justification has been offered for the failure to provide access to pregnancy termination in the Province: “Due to Prince Edward Island’s size and population, it is not possible to provide every medical procedure within our province.” This claim is also problematic. As mentioned above, a project proposal has been made to the PEI Medical Advisory Committee for the establishment of a Termination of Pregnancy Service. The business case for this proposal demonstrates that the implementation of the service would be cost-positive for the province. The province currently pays $148,088 per year for off-island services and the proposal would have actual expected costs of $110,825.

We therefore ask, on what basis is the project proposal for a Termination of Pregnancy Service not being approved? On what basis is the province of PEI continuing to refuse to provide the women of PEI with access to a medically necessary service that it is their constitutionally protected right to access?

The current situation places the lives of the women and girls of Prince Edward Island at serious risk. Yet this can be remedied – especially in light of the fact that there are physicians willing to provide abortions and that there is a proposal for a Termination of Pregnancy Service already before the PEI Medical Advisory Committee. The current situation represents an egregious violation of women’s constitutionally protected rights to fundamental healthcare, something enjoyed by all Canadians. It must be remedied.

We call on Health PEI to implement immediately a Termination of Pregnancy Service and, thereby, to protect and promote women’s health and to respect their Charter protected rights to freedom of conscience, liberty, security of the person and equality.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Colleen MacQuarrie, PhD, University of Prince Edward Island
Mary Pynenburg, President National Women’s Liberal Commission
Dawn Fowler, Canadian Director National Abortion Federation
Vicki Saporta, President and CEO National Abortion Federation
Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie, Physician Halifax N.S.
Jo‑Ann M. MacDonald RN PhD, UPEI
Cathrine Chambers, PhD candidate, Institute of Women’s Studies, U of Ottawa
Dolores Crane, Q.C.2000 (PE)
Michele Landsberg, Toronto
Virginia Reddin, Charlottetown, PEI
Emily Rutledge, MEd Student – Counselling, Acadia University, Wolfville NS
Lindsey Reddin, Bonshaw, PE
Josie Baker, ARCC, Argyle Shore PE
Bethany Toombs, Abortion Rights Network PEI
Lorraine Begley, Argyle Shore, PEI
Ashley Fraser, Summerside, PEI
Dr. Edward Hansen, PhD, member of the Criminal Code Review Board
Susana Rutherford, PEI
Agatha Schwartz, PhD, University of Ottawa
Amanda Blakeney, Fredericton, N.B.
Andrea MacNevin, Fredericton, N.B.
Lauren Munro, Ph.D. Student, Wilfrid Laurier University
Dianne Porter, PEI
Mark Sandiford, PEI
Elayne McLaine- NWLC
Michelle Blanchard, PEI
Alicia Lewis, PEI
Becky Tramley, PEI ACSW
Jane Ledwell, PEI ACSW
Stephen B. MacInnis, Charlottetown, PEI
Diane Kays, Chair -PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women
Doreen Kays,  Journalist /Author PEI
Rosemary Cairns Way, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
Darcie Lanthier, Green Party, PEI
Kandace Hagen, Charlottetown, PEI
Catey Saunders, Charlottetown, PEI
Nancy Manderson, PEI
Judy Herlihy  CPA, CMA
Beti Andric, Chair of the board of Women’s Network
Judy Burwell, Former Manager of the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton; member ARCC
Shannon Ingram
Heather Burley
Sanda Rodgers, Professor a Emerita Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
Professor Susan Boyd, F.R.S.C, Faculty of Law, UBC
Shannon Stettner, York University
Jaden Fitzherbert, Fredericton, N.B.
Dr. Ann Braithwaite, Ph.D. UPEI
Darcy Hambly, Summerside, PEI
Angele DesRoches, Summerside, PEI
Larissa DesRoches, Summerside, PEI
Lisa DesRoches, Summerside, PEI
Dr. Wendy Robbins, Coordinator of Gender and Women’s Studies,  UNB
Natalie Sullivan, UPEI
Sandy Kowalik, PEI Abortion Rights Network
Sara Roach-Lewis, Women’s Network PEI
Dr. Rachael Johnstone, Assistant Professor, Bader International Study Centre, Queen’s
Melanie Randall, Ph.D., LL.B., Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Western University
Melissa Haussman,PhD, Associate Professor, PSCI, Carleton University
Isabel Grant, Professor, Faculty of Law at Allard Hall
Savarese  Josephine, STU, Communications/ Policy & Research Committee Member
Gillian Calder, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria
Shelley A.M. Gavigan, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
Dr. Jennifer L. Schulz, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba
Jennie Abell, Associate Professor, Faculty of Common Law, University of Ottawa
Sarah Templeton, Assistant Professor Tax Law & Policy, U Calgary, Faculty of Law
J’Nan Brown, PEI
Daphne Gilbert, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law
Jocelyn Downie, Professor, Faculties of Law and Medicine, Dalhousie University
Christine Clements, WN PEI
Audrey Macklin, Professor and chair in human rights, U of T Faculty of Law
Alice Crook, UPEI AVC
Louise MacLeod, ACSW
Courtney Murray, PEI
Constance MacIntosh, Director, Dal Health Law Institute, Associate Professor,Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University
Isaac Williams, Charlottetown
Dr Erin Nelson, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta
Kiana Grizelj
Nancy Quinn, Summerside, PE
Susan Sorensen, Cape Traverse, PEI
Cale Liom, Charlottetown, PEI
Danya Charlottetown, PEI
Lindsay Logie, Dalhousie law student
Kaitlin Newson
Carolyn McLeod, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Western University
Robyne Kershaw, Bellemare (daughter, sister, wife,  mother, nurse, healthcare systems consultant)
Aimee Power
Sarah Flynn Communications/Outreach Director Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women Newfoundland and Labrador
Lou Richard, Charlottetown, PE
Anne Mazer, woman
Don Mazer, PhD
Joanna Schoepp, JD Candidate, Schulich School of Law Dalhousie University
Aileen Furey, JD Candidate at Schulich School of Law
Jolanda Lapegna, recent Schulich Law graduate from PEI
Bernard Dickens, O.C., Professor Emeritus of Health Law and Policy, University of Toronto
Amelia Cooke, JD Candidate 2015 at the Schulich School of Law Dalhousie University
Sachiko Marshall, JD Candidate, Dalhousie University
Danielle DiPardo, Dalhousie Schulich School of Law, JD Candidate
Chantelle Coulson, Dalhousie Feminist Legal Association, Schulich School of Law, Executive for Dalhousie Feminist Legal Association, Schulich School of Law
Dorothy Attakora, U of Ottawa Institute for Women’s Studies Doctorate Program
Sheldon MacQuarrie, PEI
Anne Mayhew, PEI
Gabe White, PEI
Alana Baillie, PEI
Tyler Mosher, PEI
Ivan Gallant, PEI
Beverley Baines, Professor, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University
Kate Sheesh, Berlin
Hilary A. N. Young, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of New Brunswick
Anne Taillefer, Health sociologist, Université du Québec à Montréal
Dominique Bourque, Associate professor, Women’s Studies Institute, University of Ottawa
Maureen Chandler, Charlottetown
Gail Rhyno, Charlottetown
Alana Cattapan, Dalhousie University researcher & PhD candidate York.
Kathleen M. Pye BSc(KIN), MSc, MEd, PhD (c)Mental Health Strategist and Counselling Therapist, UNB Counselling Services, Reproductive Justice New Brunswick
Allison Webster, Treasurer, Reproductive Justice New Brunswick, Vice-President, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada
Derwith Kennedy
Kathy Wilson-Taylor
Story Wight, PEI Reproductive Rights Organization
Kirstin Lund
Lucien Bellemare
Laura Bird
Amy Hussey, Toronto
Laura Babineau, PEI
Wanda Cannon, PEI
Courtney Starkman, PEI
Edith  Perry, PEI
Abby Lippman, PhD, Professor Emerita, McGill University
Susan Sherwin, FRSC, FCAHS , University Research Professor, Emeritus, Department of Philosophy Dalhousie University
Mary Burnet, Law Student and Sex Educator, Halifax
Robert McLennan, Huntsville, Ontario
Jolene Murphy, PEI
Dr. Kirstin Borgerson, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Dalhousie University
Judy McLeannan, Salt Spring Island, BC
Françoise Baylis, Dalhousie University
Anna Bogic PhD student Institute of Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa
Samantha Allen, Dalhousie Law student
Katie Mazer
Melissa Fernandez, PEI
Sigrid Rolfe, Organizational Coordinator, PEI Rape and Sexual Assault Centre
Jane Cudmore, Annandale, PEI
Patrick Dunphy, Annandale, PEI
Sylvie Arsenault, Manager, Voluntary Resource Centre
Angela Cameron, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law
Marilyn Sparling, PEI
Danya O’Malley, RSW, PEI
Marguerite Cameron, Clyde River
Myrna Dawson, Canada Research Chair in Public Policy in Criminal Justice, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Director, Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, University of Guelph
Marilee Reimer, Sociology and Women’s Studies & Gender Studies, St. Thomas University
Irene Novaczek, PhD, Breadalbane, PEI
Jaime Griffin, Youth Worker, Women’s Network PEI
Linda M. Gaudet, non-practising member of the Law Society of PEI, past LEAF Board, member, past National Association of Women and the Law
Deborah Langston, PEI
Melissa Mullen, PEI
Joan Sinclair, PEI
Peggy Cooke, ARCC-CDAC
Gunilla S. Ekberg, B.S.W., J.D., PhD candidate University Glasgow School of Law, Barrister & Solicitor(BC, Canada, 2001)
Tina Pranger, PEI
Lori A. Stinson, Professor (part-time) / Professeure à temps partiel, Department of Criminology
Norma Christie, Women for Justice
Aleida Tweten, Chair of the NDP PEI Women’s Caucus
Eliza Jane Wilson, Charlottetown
Janice Williamson, Professor, Dept of English & Film Studies, University of Alberta
Kim Pate, Canadian  Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS)
Leigh Naturkach, PEI
Simone Leibovitch, Manager, Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic
Richelle Greathouse, Suffolk
Catherine Flynn, Ph.D. Candidate at École de service social, Université de Montréal
Allison Cooke, PEI
Paul McCrady, Toronto
Jennifer Koshan, Professor Faculty of Law, University of Calgary
Mélanie Parent, University of Ottawa, MSS Master social service
Deborah Pearson
Dawn Wilson, Past Chair of Women’s Network PEI
Meryn Stuart  PhD  Retired associate professor,  University of Ottawa
Simon Lapierre, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University of Ottawa
Kirk Brown. Ph.D., P.Eng. (Ret.)
Jennifer Douek, MD CCFP, Associate Professor, Dept Family Medicine, University of Ottawa
Michelle MacCallum, Women’s Network PEI
Martha Paynter, Executive of Halifax LEAF
Emma Halpern, Executive of Halifax LEAF
Joanna Erdman, Executive of Halifax LEAF
Christina Rousseau
Pamela Atkinson; Women’s Network PEI
Dominique Masson, Professor, Women’s Studies, University of Ottawa
Christina Clorey, Master of Social Work candidate, Dalhousie University
Laurence Clennett-Sirois, PhD, Part-Time Professor, Institute of Women’s Studies and Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Ottawa
Rebecca J. Cook, C.M, J.D., J.S.D., F.R.S.C., Professor of Law Emerita, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
Donna Glass, PEI
Claire Byrne, PEI
Stephanie Douglas, PEI
Nohad Marus, PEI
Marion, White, PEI
Bethany Koughan, PEI
Mikey Wasridge, PEI
Richard Baker, PEI
Sylvia Ridgeway, PEI
Allan Ridgeway, PEI
Jamie Germaine, PEI
Lynne Douglas, PEI
Kirk Brown, PEI
Mac Day, PEI
Tanya Chung Tiam Fook, Ph.D., PEI
Ben Brisbois, PEI
Fiona Walton, Ph.D., UPEI
A.M. McAuley, Ph.D., UPEI
Katherine Searle, PEI
Stephen Taylor, PEI
Doris Boulet, PEI
Joan Conklin, PEI
Dolly Blake Hoff, PEI
Linda McQuaig, Toronto
Michael Redmond
Susan Vatcher, PEI
Deida L, PEI
Ellie Reddin, PEI
Nancy Burton, PEI
Sarah Warrington, PEI
Barbara Bloom, PEI
Kathryn Dau-Schmidt, PEI
John Callie, PEI
Lynne Thiele, PEI
Muriel Siemeis, PEI
Joanne Pauley, PEI
Arlene Barry, PEI
Noel Pauley, PEI
Betty Fay, PEI
Charlene Bushey, PEI
Tony Reddin, PEI
Mary MacNeil, PEI
William Cain, PEI
Ian Petrie, PEI
Lynn Sawyer, PEI
Lou MacKay, PEI
Cathy Grant, PEI
Dianne Minick, PEI
P. Waters, PEI
Scott, PEI
Reg Phelan, PEI
Judith Bayliss, PEI
Jesse Cousins, PEI
Trevor LeClerk, PEI
Leo Cheverie, PEI
Donnie Duyville, PEI
Maureen Kerr, PEI
David Glennie, PEI
Dr. Jenni Zelin, PEI
Emma Fugate, PEI
Andrea West, PEI
Ronald Kelly, PEI
Richard Dixon, PEI
Bernie Conway, PEI
Gundar G, PEI
E.L Ford, PEI
Irene Larkin, PEI
Andrew Morrow, PEI
Kathleen Hamilton, Montague, PE
Erin Bateman, PEI
Dave Atkinson, PEI
Sasha Andric, PEI
Celeste E. Orr., University of Ottawa
Bruce Muir, graduate of Dalhousie law school
Christine Conrad, JD Candidate, Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law
Sarah Flynn, Communications and Outreach Director Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women Newfoundland and Labrador
Leah Staples, Vice President External‑ Law Students Society, JD Candidate 2015‑ Schulich School of Law
Laura Conrad, Student
Elizabeth A. Conrad, B.Sc.,MBA
Edward Chan
Dr. Patrick Vitale, Suffolk, PEI
Dianne Morrow, PEI
Orysia Dawydiak, Union Road, PE
Louise Fleming, PEI
Sibyl Frei, PEI
Betty Jenkins
Laura Kelly, PhD Candidate, Queens University.  Concerned Island Resident
Sarah Dorchak, University of Calgary
Heather Hillsburg, Lakehead University
PhebeAnn Wolfrane, Lakehead University
Nathalie Lozano-Neira, Simon Fraser University
Asma Sayed, Athabasca University
Samantha Balzer, University of Alberta
Ilya Parkins, University of British Columbia
Kristin Rodier, University of Alberta
Alexandre Baril, City University of New York
Mary Bunch, University of Toronto
Melissa Autumn White, University of British Columbia
Linda Christiansen-Ruffman, Saint Mary’s University
Ann Denis, University of Ottawa
Rachel Hurst, St. Francis Xavier
Susan Manning, Mount Saint Vincent University
Elli Dehnari, University of Alberta
Tegan Zimmerman, MacEwan University
Heather Latimer,  University of British Columbia
Karissa Patton, University of Lethbridge
Ariella Perotta, University of Lethbridge
Julie Dowsett, York University
Alana Cattapan, Dalhousie University
Marie Lovrod, University of Saskatchewan
Rhiannon Bury, Athabasca University
Laurie Brinklow, PhD Candidate, School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania
Joanne  McCabe
Kathryn Connolly, born in Charlottetown, PEI, now in Victoria, BC.
Yvette Doucette, Charlottetown
Blair McIlwain, 3rd year Dalhousie Law student
Geneviève Rail, Ph.D., Directrice, Institut Simone-De Beauvoir, Université Concordia
Shirley Mayhew, PEI
Liza Oliver, PEI
Carlene Variyan, Vice President (Ontario), National Women’s Liberal Commission PEI Abortion Rights Network
Alice Crook, PEI
Susan DoHoo, PEI
Margaret McPike
Ian DoHoo, PEI
Craig Jones, PEI
Cheryl Wartman, PEI
Marie Wiliams, Ottawa
Lorna Burdett, PEI
Jane Jenkins, PEI

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