While midwives “do not currently provide abortion services in Ontario, we are working to change that,” Berinstein told the government affairs committee. She said midwives could help prop up a “fragile system” of abortion in the province.
Midwives photo

A few days later, the CBC reported that the AOM was lobbying the Liberal government to change provincial laws so midwives can commit abortions. AOM president Elizabeth Brandeis told the state broadcaster there is a “burgeoning interest” in midwives providing abortion “services” in the province.

Brandeis said the idea was on the 800-member association’s “radar” since the summer when the AOM took part in the government’s bubble zone law consultations.

The AOM is officially “pro-choice” Brandeis said. “We believe very strongly that reproductive rights, including a spectrum of choices around birthing, also encompass safe access to abortion care.”

Midwives in most provinces are licensed to provide care during pregnancy, labour, and birth, and postnatal care of up to six weeks. They are not allowed to perform any surgery. In some provinces, including Ontario, they are allowed to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs.

While it is believed that the legalization of chemical abortions in Canada will lead to a broadening of who can carry out abortions in Canada, Katrina Kilroy, president of the Canadian Association of Midwives, told the CBC that midwives could be trained to do surgical abortions.

Kilroy also said abortion “is not a contentious issue in the midwifery community.”

Canadian Midwives for Life disagrees. In a statement provided to LifeSiteNews, the group said, “The only conceivable reason that abortion was not considered a contentious issue in midwifery is because those who have an objection have felt silenced.” CML said, “There are many pro-life midwives who will feel their conscience rights threatened if abortion is added to their scope of practice.”

A 2011 survey of Ontario midwives published in the Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice found 37 per cent agreed to that abortion should be added to the professional’s services, while 32 disagreed and 31 per cent were undecided. It also found that 51 of midwives said it would be emotionally difficult to provide abortion services to clients and 24 per cent had moral objections to doing so.

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins said his ministry is working with the AOM to review the scope of services they may provide, including expanding the list of drugs they may prescribe. But he said the province is “not currently considering expanding the scope to include abortion services.” While not currently on the agenda, Hoskins said, “we are open to all discussions.”

Those comments were made before Health Canada liberalized rules governing chemical abortions, including scrapping a requirement that doctors must dispense the abortion drug Mifegymiso.

Canadian Midwives for Life said in their statement to LifeSiteNews that members of their professaion regard both mother and child as their clients, and are in a unique position to help pregnant women in difficult circumstances. “As midwives, we have the time, relationship and resources to respond to a woman considering abortion with questions, compassion, and real support,” it stated.

The “pro-life view is not about shaming women or condemning abortion providers; it’s about believing that every human life has dignity and a right to live,” CML said. “This move of disregarding the health and life of the child will cast an entirely different light on ‘holistic’ midwifery care, removing the baby from the ‘whole.’”

Midwives lobbying for the right to commit abortions is nothing new. The Interim reported that a coalition of Ontario midwives issued a report in June 1984 calling upon the government to license midwives to carry out surgical abortions.