LEAF and AANPEI Welcome Announcement that PEI Government Will End Its Discriminatory Abortion Policy

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March 31, 2016

On January 5, 2016, Abortion Access Now PEI (AAN PEI), with the support of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), gave notice that it would be filing a legal challenge to Prince Edward Island’s discriminatory and unlawful abortion policy not to provide abortions in the province. Today, the Prince Edward Island (PEI) government took the momentous step of announcing an end to that policy. Premier Wade MacLauchlan has announced that PEI will open a women’s health clinic in the province as soon as possible, which will offer a full complement of reproductive health services, including access to both medical and surgical abortion services.In making this announcement, Premier MacLauchlan recognized that it is the PEI government’s Charter obligation to provide abortion services in PEI. He acknowledged that the current policy would likely be found in violation of the Charter and that his government therefore would not oppose AAN PEI’s legal challenge.

LEAF and AAN PEI welcome the government’s acknowledgment of its constitutional obligation to provide meaningful local access to reproductive health services to Island women.

LEAF and AAN PEI expect that this announcement will result in full local access to abortion in short order, and look forward to participating in the implementation of this promise. We remain committed to holding the government to account with respect to its announced plan.

LEAF and AAN PEI are proud to have played a role in bringing about this historic change. This outcome would not have been possible without the tremendous efforts of the activists in PEI who have tirelessly advocated for abortion access in the province over the last three decades, as well as the brave women who have come forward to share their personal stories. Their extraordinary commitment and resolve have brought about this sea change in government policy. We are deeply honoured to work with them.

LEAF and AAN PEI also wish to acknowledge AAN PEI counsel Nasha Nijhawan and Kelly McMillan of Nijhawan McMillan Barristers in Halifax for their legal brilliance, commitment, tenacity and skill in bringing about this remarkable result.

Today is a good day for equality rights in PEI!

About Abortion Access Now PEI (AAN PEI)
AAN PEI is dedicated to returning local, safe abortion access to Prince Edward Island. AAN PEI works to promote, advocate for and create the conditions for full and unfettered access to surgical and medical abortion services including diagnostic and follow-up care, in PEI, paid for by the PEI healthcare system. For more information about AAN PEI, visit www.aanpei.com

About Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)
LEAF is a national, charitable, non-profit organization, founded in 1985. LEAF works to advance the substantive equality rights of women and girls in Canada through litigation, law reform and public education using the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For more information about LEAF, visit www.leaf.ca

For media inquiries:
Ann Wheatley
AAN PEI
902.388.8183, ann.wheatley@bellaliant.net

Colleen MacQuarrie
Associate Professor Psychology Department
University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI)
902.566.0617, cmacquarrie@upei.ca

Kim Stanton
LEAF Legal Director
416.595.7170 x 223, k.stanton@leaf.ca

Nasha Nijhawan & Kelly McMillan
Counsel, Nijhawan McMillan Barristers
902.407.5145, nasha@nmbarristers.com, kelly@nmbarristers.com