MONTREAL, Quebec, December 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The body overseeing Quebec's abortion guidelines has promised to make late-term abortions easier to obtain after a media firestorm erupted when a woman revealed she had been denied an abortion at 30 weeks' gestation by two Montreal hospitals.
Dr. Yves Robert, secretary of the Quebec College of Physicians, told reporters this week, “I think it was needing an update and we are doing it now. We want … that women would have access to it without real problems.”
Up until now, the College has on paper restricted abortions to the first 23 weeks, but also gives abortionists wide latitude via exceptions for cases of “serious congenital anomalies” or other “exceptional circumstances.”
The issue arose last week when a woman complained to Le Devoir newspaper how she and her partner had to “fight” to get the abortion they wanted after discovering their baby had “abnormalities.” Explaining that she “didn’t want my child to suffer their whole life[sic],” the couple asked the hospital at McGill University to perform an abortion.
When McGill, after sending the issue to an executive committee, refused, the parents got a lawyer, who recommended they shop around rather than go to court. A second hospital refused, but finally, at 35 weeks’ gestation, they found a source.
Then the media campaign began. The lawyer, Jean-Pierre Menard, framed the issue as one of human rights. “The decision to continue or interrupt a pregnancy belongs only to the woman. No committee, no outside authority,” he proclaimed in an extreme position that even the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada doesn’t hold.
According to the ARCC’s position paper on late-term abortions, “Abortion is a health procedure and as such can be left up to the discretion of the doctor and patient.” The same paper refers several times to the rights of doctors with respect to exercising their judgment in cases of late-term abortions.
One newspaper reported that McGill’s rejection was based on the decision of an “ethics committee,” which in Canada’s most secular province is so controversial a concept that the Montreal Gazette devoted an entire story to its denial, leading with “The McGill University Health Centre says it did not block a woman’s request for an abortion late in her pregnancy by sending the case to its ethics committee for evaluation.”
“It was not an ethics committee — it was a committee of doctors, with an ethics representative,” MUHC spokesperson Ian Popple told the Gazette.
The hospital explained that it was following the Quebec College of Physicians‘ guidelines, adding, “In response to a request for an abortion, members of the treatment team provide care and services to the best in their understanding of the patient’s record, engaging all their clinical expertise, experience and judgment, working in accordance with their respective best practices.”
The hospital also promised that it “recognizes each woman’s right to voluntary termination (abortion), as established by the Supreme Court of Canada.” But McGill wouldn’t give a reason for rejecting this couple’s request.
The news media didn’t ask and McGill University Health Centre and the Quebec College of Physicians didn’t tell why the College, in concert with medical profession across Canada and the U.S., rejects abortions after 23 weeks’ gestation except in the rarest of cases.
“It’s a simple reason,” said Dr. Will Johnston, a Vancouver GP who is director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of British Columbia. “It’s too risky for the mother. The risk is of hemorrhaging and infection.”
“It’s really irresponsible of the press not to ask,” Brian Jenkins of Campagne Quebec-Vie told LifeSiteNews. “It hurts me to think they are so biased for abortion. And it’s sad that the medical people especially aren’t bringing up this information that women so clearly need to know.”
News coverage consistently failed to address the obvious medical issue, preferring to frame the story in terms of the so-called right to abortion “enshrined in Canadian law,” as the Gazette put it, although Canada, in fact, has no law at all on abortion.
Ignored were the physical risks to the mother, which increase alarmingly with late-term abortions. According to the Americans United for Life fact sheet on late-term abortions, complications occur in 2 percent to 3 percent of abortions done at 12 to 13 weeks’ gestation, and in 50 percent of abortions done well into the second trimester.
Similarly, an American study on abortion-related mothers’ deaths from 1988 to 1997 found that at 13-15 weeks’ gestation there were 14.7 deaths per 100,000. At 16-20 weeks, the rate rose to 29.5 per 100,000. At or after 21 weeks, the rate reached 76.6 deaths per 100,000.
Also unreported was the woman facing a fourfold increase in her chance of dying and a 25-fold increase in her chance for complications such as, according to the AUL, “hemorrhage, infections, incomplete abortions, and organ damage.”