An aboriginal candidate running in the Prince Edward Island provincial election says she’s “moving ahead” with her campaign after someone vandalized one of her election signs with an offensive slur.
Jacqueline Tuplin, an NDP candidate for the Island’s May 4th election, discovered her sign had been vandalized yesterday. In what looks like black sharpie, someone scrawled “squaw” across Tuplin’s face.
In a historic move, Canada’s smallest province announced Thursday it will start providing surgical abortions within its borders, admitting that its current policies are likely unconstitutional.
The government of Prince Edward Island has directed its health agency to begin planning for a new women’s reproductive health center on the island, where a number of reproductive services will be offered, including medical and surgical abortions.
Prince Edward Island has been the lone hold out in Canada, where abortion is legal, opting to send women outside of the province to get an abortion.
Earlier this year, an abortion advocacy group announced that it was launching a constitutional challenge against the island, arguing that its policy amounted to a “state imposed barrier to the right and ability of individual women to exercise control over matters fundamental to their physical, emotional, and psychological integrity.”
Premier Wade MacLachlan announced on Thursday that it would not be opposing the constitutional challenge.
“Based on legal advice that current policies regarding access to in-province abortion services would likely be in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, government determined that the most responsible approach is to revise the policy rather than embark on a long and costly court case,” said MacLauchlan in a news release. “We recognize that Islanders, including Members of the Legislative Assembly, have strong personal beliefs on this issue; we also recognize our obligation to provide timely and professional health care, without discrimination.”
The government has asked the agency to develop a business case for the new center, which will be located in a hospital. The plan is supposed to be in place by the end of 2016.
Abortion access is a divisive issue in Canada’s Atlantic provinces, and Paula Biggar, the minister responsible for the status of women, acknowledged that residents have expressed views on both sides of debate.
“We have listened with respect to many voices and personal convictions on this topic,” said Biggar in a statement. “Public policy must be reassessed and revised to ensure it stands the test of time. The decision we’re announcing today means that we will offer timely access to frontline services that align with women’s equality rights.”
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A Prince Edward Island woman now living in Halifax is opening her home to women from her province needing abortions in the city because the procedure is not available there.
Chelsey Buchanan posted on social media offering a room, food, bus tickets and transportation to the clinic. She hasn’t had any requests for the room yet.
Buchanan said she was inspired to offer help after reading the Sovereign Uterus, a blog where women were sharing their frustrations with the system.
“I was reading over it and I saw that so many women had travelled home afterwards, like after getting the procedure done and it was against doctor’s orders,” she said. “So I kind of figured there are a lot people out there that don’t have the means to stay in Halifax overnight, and I mean I have space, so why not offer up what I have?”
P.E.I. is the only province in Canada where surgical abortions are not performed, but some doctors will provide a prescription for a medical abortion. The province pays for the service but not the cost of travel. A 2014 Health PEI report indicated the government could have saved $37,000 a year by providing the service on the island. The report said about 153 women had to seek the service in 2013.
Almost six months after a final capitulation on its long-standing refusal to provide abortions to women in-province, the government of Prince Edward Island has — with minimal fanfare — announced plans to build a clinic where the service will be offered.
“It’s an exciting day,” said Ann Wheatley of the group Abortion Access Now, who had threatened legal action in an effort to pressure government to provide the service.
“It’s really gratifying to know that all the work they 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,” she said.
The province’s Liberal government held a news conference Friday to announce it had chosen the Prince County Hospital in Summerside as the location for a Women’s Wellness Centre. However, an extremely careful reading of the news release reveals just one line — near the end — that says one of the offered services will be “pregnancy termination.”
“It wasn’t meant to be downplayed,” Health Minister Robert Henderson said in an interview. He said the procedure is just one of many services that will be provided by the new centre, including pre-natal and post-natal care, and sexual health services.
Prince Edward Island is the last province in Canada to refuse to provide abortions within its borders, forcing women seeking the procedure over the last three decades to travel off the Island. An agreement has been in place with hospitals in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.