Facing legal pressure from lawsuits launched by abortion activists and political pressure from Justin Trudeau’s federal government, Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan announced earlier this year that the province would reverse its three-decade policy of not committing abortions on the Island.
Last month, the Liberal provincial government provided details about that policy, announcing that the new Women’s Wellness Centre in Summerside would provide what the Health Ministry press release called “pregnancy termination” – a euphemism for abortion.
The Prince County Hospital in the west PEI city will get a new $5.35 million expansion to house the Women’s Wellness Centre. The centre will provide pre-natal and post-natal care as well as menopause care for women without family physicians, and specialized care such as post-partum mental health services and sexual health services such as “education, screening, and treatment” and “pregnancy termination.” It will also coordinate fertility treatment for Islanders who must leave the province for such services.
The CBC’s Brian Higgins noted that Health Minister Robert Henderson did not include the phrase “pregnancy termination” during his press conference although it was in the written statement. Later Henderson said, “It wasn’t meant to be downplayed.”
Still, abortion groups were thrilled with the announcement. “It’s an exciting day,” said Ann Wheatley of Abortion Access Now, the advocacy group that brought a constitutional challenge against the province for not offering abortion on the Island. “It’s really gratifying to know that all the work that we put into this over the years has paid off and that we have a concrete plan now for a women’s wellness centre that will include abortion services.”
Nicole Dupuis, executive director of PEI Right to Life, told LifeSiteNews pro-lifers were not surprised by the announcement, although they were disappointed. She said it was too early to speculate how having abortion services on the Island would affect the number of women in the province seeking abortion. Dupuis also said that with abortions being carried out in Island facilities, vigils such as 40 Days for Life could be coming to PEI. “We aren’t giving up,” she vowed.
The Charlottetown Guardian reported that Prince County Hospital was chosen as the site for the new women’s health center because its ambulatory care section needed upgrading anyway. Renovations will be complete in early 2018 although the Women’s Wellness Center will open in January 2017.
Prince Edward Island was the last province to resist doing abortions in its hospitals although it did pay for Island women to go to Nova Scotia and, more recently, New Brunswick for surgical abortions