Open Letter from the PEI Abortion Rights Network

qH1tg6tH_400x400View as a PDF: FINAL-abortion-rights-letter-May-201


PEI Abortion Rights Network
c/o Voluntary Resource Centre, 81 Prince Street, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4R3

May 22, 2015

Premier H. Wade MacLauchlan
Hon. Doug Currie
Province of Prince Edward Island

Dear Premier MacLauchlan and Minister Currie:

We write collectively today from an emergency meeting of the PEI Abortion Rights Network, held at the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women office on four hours’ notice and attended by 25 concerned people. This is an open letter from the group.

We write to demand immediate action for local access to abortion care in Prince Edward Island. This care must include – but not be limited to – local access to surgical abortion in a Prince Edward Island hospital or hospitals. Immediate steps are necessary to safeguard women’s health.

Yesterday, one woman told her story of being denied care to follow up a prescribed medication-based termination of pregnancy. It is our understanding that she was not offered medical procedures that would determine the status of her pregnancy or any human care or kindness. This is not the first story Prince Edward Island women have told about the terrible lack of follow-up medical care for women who are prescribed a medication-based abortion.

What has brought us together today is the fresh attention on this issue.

Lack of appropriate aftercare puts women’s lives and health at risk and cannot be tolerated.

As a first principle, let it be stated that the best and most important back-up to a medication-based abortion is local access to safe, legal surgical abortion. All other steps and recommendations that follow are important as stop-gaps but would not replace local access.

We call on government to take the following actions:

1) Enhancing communications and navigation of systems for abortion care

A very small number of doctors are aware of the protocols for a medication-based abortion. Only a half-dozen doctors are trained in the protocol. Lack of access to safe, surgical options has created intense pressure on doctors to provide this medical care. There is a veil of secrecy over access to medication-based care. This forces community-based advocates for reproductive rights to become gatekeepers for information and access to medical abortion. This is not acceptable.

We call for immediate publication of online information about abortion services that directs people to a local, PEI-based phone number and email address where they are guaranteed confidential, non-judgmental service by a comprehensively well-informed person(s) who is able to provide information about options for abortion care and how to access them.

In the absence of adequate non-stigmatized follow-up care for medication abortions and in the absence of surgical abortion back-up if the protocol is unsuccessful, women require more information from Health PEI about what to expect from a medication abortion. Clear, illustrated print and online medical information is essential. It should be supported by a 24-hour on-call appropriately trained information service, preferably a medical practitioner, available to answer women’s questions during the process of a medication-based termination. This model functions well at facilities across the country, both hospital-based and free-standing facilities.

2) Establishing a policy framework for medication-based abortions

As noted above, it is best practice to have surgical back-up to medication-based abortion. Lack of local surgical abortion in PEI hospitals or clinics limits access even to medication-based abortion care for Island women. Local access would improve uptake of the medication abortion protocol in lieu of surgical termination.

In the fall of of 2015, Health Canada is expected to make a ruling on Canadian access to a first-rate drug for medication-based abortion, mifepristone. This drug is widely used in Europe and other countries. It is far more reliably successful than the protocol currently available (methyltrexate and misoprostol) and can be administered up to nine weeks’ gestation, rather than just seven.

In light of the current and possible future use of medications for abortion in PEI, we recommend that the Province of Prince Edward Island immediately set a comprehensive billing number for medication abortion. Billing numbers exist in British Columbia and Ontario to provide models for Prince Edward Island policy.

Additionally, when mifepristone is approved by Health Canada in 2015, we ask that it immediately be added to the provincial formulary.

It is important to note that while greater access to medication abortions will make a big difference for Prince Edward Island women, there will always be women who prefer surgical abortion care. A woman’s preference for surgical care may relate to its high success rate, the certainty and finality of the surgical outcome, or the ability to plan around a specific date. Some women will always also require surgical abortion care, especially women who have gone past the gestational limit for medication abortions or women for whom a medication abortion would not be medically appropriate.

Local access to safe and legal surgical abortion remains crucial.

3) Establishing local dedicated clinic days for women seeking abortion care

Last year, Health PEI made a business case for repatriating abortion care, including surgical abortion, to Prince Edward Island hospitals through a hospital-based clinic. The model presented in this report, with its clear case for the feasibility of local surgical abortion access in a local hospital, must be reconsidered as the next step for bringing abortion care back into the Prince Edward Island health system.

If clinic days were to be established within a comprehensive women’s health centre or a full-service sexual and reproductive health clinic, all the better, since the state of access to sexual and reproductive health care in Prince Edward Island is shameful, unacceptable, and must be acted on with the most urgent priority.

Women’s health is at stake. The time to act is now.

Sincerely,

Representatives of the PEI Abortion Rights Network
Additional signatures follow

cc: Dr. Richard Wedge, Health PEI
Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women

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Community Notices

Welcome to our Community Events and Notices E-News for Thursday, May 14, 2015

New listings this week:
1) East Prince Women’s Information Centre Survey and Community Consultations for The CONNECT Project
2) PEI Business Women’s Association E-news for May 19, 2015
3) Panmure Island Lighthouse 3rd Annual Yard Sale
4) Sunday Ceilidh at The Mount
5) PEI Rural General Stores, 1864 to 1984
6) Anderson House Dinner & Auction
7) Bonshaw Ceilidh
8) CLIA’s 30th Anniversary Annual General Meeting
9) Charlottetown Recreation Programs

The current and past issues of our Thursday E-News with upcoming community events and notices are available at the following links:

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Community Notices

Welcome to our Community Events and Notices E-News for Thursday, May 14, 2015

New listings this week:
1) Chairs Circle 2015
2) Town of Cornwall Happenings
3) CFUW Charlottetown May Meeting
4) 42nd Annual Clean Up and Contest
5) Voluntary Resource Council Annual General Meeting
6) Webinar: Supporting Elder Abuse Prevention Practice Through Social Media
7) 3rd Annual Mini Barn Raffle
8) Bike Maintenance Clinic
9) Nature Camps at Macphail Woods
10) Plants of Prince Edward Island
11) Addressing Household Food Security in PEI – AGM, PEI Food Security Network

The current and past issues of our Thursday E-News with upcoming community events and notices are available at the following links:

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Chairs Circle 2015

Back row, L-R: Kelly Robinson, Barb Currie, Dianne Porter, Colleen MacQuarrie. Front row, L-R: Anne Nicholson, Eileen Brown, and Sharon O'Brien.

Back row, L-R: Kelly Robinson, Barb Currie, Dianne Porter, Colleen MacQuarrie. Front row, L-R: Anne Nicholson, Eileen Brown, and Sharon O’Brien.

The Chairs Circle of past and present Chairpersons of the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women has become one of our favourite and most-anticipated annual traditions.DSC_3221

This year, we were delighted that the Chairs Circle included six past Chairs and our current Vice-Chair in a roundtable discussion of priorities from the Equality Report Card. Topics included violence, health, poverty, and justice: themes that are deeply interconnected. Their wisdom will be reflected in the report card when it is released in June.

For a little bit of added interest, Jane and Michelle practised new skills in graphic recording to create charts from the Chairs’ discussion.

 

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Community Notices

Welcome to our Community Events and Notices E-News for Thursday, May 7, 2015

New listings this week:
1) The Organized Mom Expo
2) Spring Into Summer Craft Fair 2015
3) National Prescription Drop-off Day, May 9th: A message from Health Canada/ La Journée nationale de retour des médicaments d’ordonnance, le 9 mai : Message de Santé Canada
4) WoHeLo Clothing Sale
5) 9th Dandelion Festival
6) Celebrate Victoria Day in Victoria, PEI
7) Aboriginal Awareness Week
8) 12th Annual Dinner & Silent Auction for Anderson House
9) Sexual Violence Knowledge Exchange Registration Information for In-person and Webcast Participation
10) Vision, Fundraising & Theatre Night
11) PEIBWA Upcoming Events

The current and past issues of our Thursday E-News with upcoming community events and notices are available at the following links:

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Community Notices

Welcome to our Community Events and Notices E-News for Thursday, April 30, 2015

New listings this week:
1) Community Organization Registration Opportunity re Atlantic Crime Prevention Symposium
2) Mikinduri Children of Hope Annual Yard Sale and Book Sale
3) Camp Gencheff Variety Concert “A Night to Remember”
4) Living a Healthy Life Program
5) PEI Gay Tourism Association Monthly Meeting
6) A Mother is Born Film Screening
7) Addressing Household Food Security in PEI – AGM, PEI Food Security Network
8) Living with Stroke Program – Heart & Stroke Foundation
9) PEIBWA Upcoming Events
10) 2015 Parks Canada Seasonal Passes Available Mid-May
11) Renaming of a Section of University Avenue in Effect May 6

The current and past issues of our Thursday E-News with upcoming community events and notices are available at the following links:

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Community Notices

Welcome to our Community Events and Notices E-News for Thursday, April 23, 2015

New listings this week:
1) News Release from the PEI Status of Women
2) Charlottetown Family Earth Expo
3) Soul Food is This Sunday
4) Seniors College Group Art Show
5) Charlottetown Family Forum 2015 – May 1
6) FundRaising Dinner for SpayAid PEI
7) Reading Town Week
8) Books2Eat 2015
9) An Evening with Zarqa Nawaz
10) New Play – Jemma’s Cookies and Workshop: We Are Here
11) Free Workshop: Intimacy after Breast Cancer
12) PEIBWA Upcoming Events
13) It Starts with One | Mon expérience, sa réussite
14) Families in Canada Conference – Ottawa

The current and past issues of our Thursday E-News with upcoming community events and notices are available at the following links:

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Previous listings by title

To view the e-newsletter with specific details about an event, click on the title link:

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