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A poll of 300 Prince Edward Island residents suggests that support for abortion in Canada’s only province where a mother cannot find a facility to kill her pre-born child has risen dramatically since 2008.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said that abortion “should be available to women who want them during the first three months of pregnancy.” The number has risen from 36 percent when the same poll was conducted in 2008.

Only 13 percent said that abortion “should not be available under any circumstances.” The poll was conducted by Corporate Research Associates in early November and is stated to have a margin of error of ± 2.5 percentage points, a 95 percent confidence level.

Last August the world-wide abortion lobby besieged the province, home of Montgomery’s life-loving Anne of Green Gables, with an international abortion conference titled “Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution.” The conference covered topics ranging from “abortion rights activism and reproductive justice” and “barriers to abortion access” to “historical constructions of the fetus” and “abortion in the classroom: pedagogy and politics.”

The province, with a population of 145,000, has been labeled the country’s “life sanctuary” after being abortion-free for 27 years as a result of a successful campaign by pro-life advocates in the 1980s to lobby hospital boards throughout the province to cease providing abortions.

Abortion activists continue to express outrage that island women must travel to the mainland where the PEI government funds so-called “medically necessary” abortions. Now that abortion activists have successfully campaigned to have the New Brunswick Liberal government ramp up abortion access, activists have now shifted their focus to PEI.

Responding to the mounting pressure, PEI Premier Robert Ghiz announced last month that while he “believe[s] in a woman’s right to choose,” he nevertheless supports the current compromise between pro-abortion and pro-life positions by paying for abortions in public hospitals off-island.

The poll also found that one half (50 percent) of Atlantic Canadians overall believe that abortion should be available to women, a three percentage point increase when compared to the previous 2008 poll. Thirty-one percent said abortion should be available in cases of incest or rape, a figure that remains unchanged from the previous poll, while 11 percent said abortion should not be available under any circumstances, a 1 percent drop from the previous poll. 

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