For 30 years, Prince Edward Island has been known among pro-life groups as a “life sanctuary,” the lone province in Canada that refuses to perform abortions.
Since the last abortion was performed on P.E.I. in 1982 — after the merger of Catholic and Protestant hospitals in Charlottetown came with the proviso that the new hospital not perform the procedure — women who wished to end their pregnancies have had to leave the island.
Those who have two doctors’ referrals can have their abortions performed at hospital in Halifax and paid for by the province. Women without referrals pay as much as $800 for the procedure at the private Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton. Last year, as many as 140 women left P.E.I. to have an abortion, about 60 to the hospital in Halifax and as many as 80 to the Morgentaler Clinic.
But a newly formed pro-choice movement on Prince Edward Island is hoping to reignite the debate over what activists say is the last government standing against universal access to abortion in Canada.