SUMMERSIDE, Prince Edward Island, April 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Abortion became a hot button issue last night at the PEI leaders debate leading up to the May 4 election as Premier and Liberal Leader Wade MacLauchlan announced that if his party wins, he will ensure increased access to abortion for island women.
“The real issue is where the barriers are,” he said in the debate hosted by CBC at the Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside, stating that abortion is available to women as a legal procedure according to the Canada Health Act.
“We have identified three – what is timely and accessible information about the availability of abortion service. Two is about some of the preliminaries that are in place and some of it warrants some serious investigation and discussion as to how that can be improved, and the third is the cost for the traveling out of province to have the abortion. Those are the issues that the government should be addressing,” he said.
But constitutional lawyer Faye Sonier has argued that the Canada Health Act does not actually require provincial health plans to cover abortion, only “medically necessary” services, which are determined by the provincial government. In 2012, the Canadian Physicians for Life stated its position that “it is our strong belief that no abortions are medically necessary.”
The question asked was: “PEI is the only province in the country that does not offer women access to abortion, what, if anything will you do to change that?”
Progressive Conservative Leader Rob Lantz said that changing the status quo is not part of the PC agenda and that there is no particular answer that will make everyone happy when it comes to this issue.
“We know we have a responsibility to follow the five principles of the Canada Health Act and deliver health care to our citizens both on and off the Island,” he said. “We will continue to monitor whether our policy conforms with the Act and in the meantime any changes to the abortion policy are not part of the agenda.”
While the Green Party led by Peter Bevan-Baker and the New Democratic Party led by Mike Redmond have explicit pro-abortion platforms, pundits say both parties lack the support needed to form government. Of the 27 seats across the province, the Liberals currently hold 20 while the Progressive Conservatives hold 3. An Independent MLA holds one while three seats are vacant.
Described by pro-lifers as a “life sanctuary,” PEI is the only place in America where, for almost three decades, pre-born children cannot be legally killed by abortion. The PEI government, however, funds so-called “medically necessary” abortions for women off-island. In the last three years, an average of 88 women per year have had their children aborted off the island at taxpayers’ expense.
Holly Pierlot, president of PEI Right to Life, told LifeSiteNews that no matter who is elected next Monday, her organization will continue to fight for the right to life of every child, including those targeted for abortion because of a so-called ‘medical necessity.’
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“We realize that a child’s life is just as valuable on PEI as it is west of the bridge,” she said. “We would want to see the entire notion of ‘medical necessity’ for an abortion examined by a qualified group of non-biased medical professionals who are actually attentive to the research who would then aid the government in reducing what we know to be unnecessary abortions in the name of ‘medical necessity.’”
Last year the international abortion lobby besieged PEI, home of Montgomery’s life-loving Anne of Green Gables, with a 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.”
Last week UPEI student Claire Byrne disrupted a Liberal Party news conference with shouts of “Abortion access.” PEI’s The Guardian quoted Byrne as saying that younger generations do not see abortion as a controversial issue. “It’s just outrageous that this is still an issue,” she said.
But Stephanie Gray, former executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and who now directs Love Unleashes Life ministry, told LifeSiteNews that over 13 years of international pro-life activism has shown her that young people not only think abortion is controversial, but many completely reject the wide-spread practice.
“These young people are rising up and demanding that the killing of their generation be ceased,” she said, adding that young people are asking questions such as “what does the abortion procedure do” and whether it’s “acceptable or not to have a sex-selective abortion?”
The surge of young people in Canada’s pro-life movement has not gone unnoticed by mainstream media. In 2012, Toronto Star profiled the pro-life movement’s “slick, youthful rebranding” in a rare piece with a positive spin, noting that instead of “just grey-haired activists holding signs outside abortion clinics, the pro-life movement has undergone a savvy, youthful makeover.” For instance, the National March for Life in Ottawa, which takes place this year on May 14, is known to draw over 20,000 pro-lifers annually, a majority of them young people.