This case concerned access to abortion in Prince Edward Island (PEI). 

LEAF provided legal support to Abortion Access Now PEI (AAN PEI)’s constitutional challenge to PEI’s abortion policy.  

Facts 

After abortion was decriminalized in Canada in 1988, the government of PEI enacted a policy that no induced abortions would be performed on the Island. As a result, PEI women were unable to access abortions in the province, and needed to travel to Nova Scotia or New Brunswick for the procedure. AAN PEI, a group of local activists, filed a constitutional challenge to this policy.  

Arguments 

AAN PEI, with the legal support of LEAF, argued that PEI’s abortion policy violated the right of PEI women to equal access to health care services under s. 15 of the  Charter. The policy unlawfully discriminated based on sex and pregnancy because it excluded abortion – a basic health care service required by women – from the health care services offered in PEI. PEI’s abortion policy continued the historic disadvantage and stigma faced by women in relation to their reproductive health and decision-making. 

PEI’s Abortion Policy was a state-imposed barrier to the right and ability of individual women to exercise control over matters fundamental to their physical, emotional and psychological integrity. Difficulty, uncertainty, delay, lack of access and stigma caused PEI women physical and psychological harm. 

Outcome 

Less than three months after AAN PEI announced its legal challenge, the PEI government ended its abortion policy. The Premier of PEI announced PEI would open a women’s health clinic in the province, offering a full complement of reproductive health services including medical and surgical abortion. He also acknowledged that the courts would have likely found that the policy violated the Charter.  

LEAF is grateful to Nasha Nijhawan and Kelly McMillan, counsel for AAN PEI in this case.  

Download the Draft Notice of Application here.

Our records are imperfect, but we are doing our best to update them – if you were involved with LEAF on this case but your name is not reflected here, please email us at [email protected].