Peter Baklinski

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Canadian provinces free to defund abortion: legal analysis

Peter Baklinski

OTTAWA, Ontario, 21 November, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Despite the widespread view that Canada’s provinces have no choice but to fund abortion this is not actually the case, according to a new legal analysis from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC).

EFC’s report released today, titled “Provincial Decisions: Abortion Funding in Canada,” calls upon Canadians to “advocate for the defunding of abortion procedures.”

In the report, EFC calls taxpayer funded abortions “unconscionable” for those who “believe that life is a gift from God that should [be] protected through all its stages, beginning at conception”.

The EFC decided to study the applicable laws and policies regarding abortion funding after a groundswell of Ontario and Alberta pro-lifers intensively lobbied their provincial governments this year to have the elective procedure defunded.

Alissa Golob, Youth Coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition, who helped lead the defunding charge, has pointed out that “pregnancy is not a disease” and that “OHIP should be covering ‘medically necessary’ treatment, not funding lifestyle choices.”

Don Hutchinson, EFC’s General Legal Counsel, said that the report reveals that the “broad jurisprudential definition of ‘medically necessary services’ and the constitutionally granted jurisdiction of provinces over health care” leaves room for provincial governments to “determine whether and when abortions are ‘medically necessary’ and as such, whether to fund them and in which circumstances.”

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The report argues that a “provincial government may refuse to fund abortion procedures for its citizens,” since the 1867 Constitution Act gives provinces “constitutional jurisdiction to manage health care generally”.

“As such, a provincial Minister of Health may determine which medical practices are funded within the province.”

The report points out that while provincial governments are “not required to conform to the position of the federal government on the medical necessity of abortion procedures,” provinces may, however, be “persuaded to abide by the federal government’s stance through the withholding of federal transfer payments for non-compliance.”

Prince Edward Island remains the last of Canada’s provinces where lack of access to abortion offers some form of protection to babies in the womb. At the same time, the island government covers the cost of out-of-province abortions. Recently there has been a surge of pro-abortion advocacy to have the deadly procedure brought to island soil. Abortion advocates have claimed that abortion is a “medically necessary essential health care service”, one to which all Canadian women have a “right” under the Canada health act.

Golob told LifeSiteNews.com that the EFC report “reiterates the importance of provincial lobbying and activism at the grassroots level,” especially since 61% of Ontarians oppose taxpayer funding of abortion for non-medically necessary abortions, according to a 2011 poll. That same poll found that most Ontarians are unaware about how much abortion actually costs the province. Ontario’s estimated 30,000 to 50,000 abortions annually cost taxpayers between $30-$50 million.

“The majority of Canadians are not satisfied with the status quo on abortion funding,” said Golob. “This means that an initiative to defund abortion would be successful if enough people stood up and spoke out.”

The EFC is asking those who support defunding abortion to contact their elected provincial representatives, party leaders, and the federal Minister of Health to “advocate for the defunding of abortion procedures”.

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