Posted on Oct 21, 2019

UCP refuses to increase access to women’s health services

The UCP government has voted against increasing access to abortion and reproductive health services in Alberta, forcing many women to continue to travel hundreds of kilometers to access critical services such as midwifery, birth control, in-vitro-fertilization and abortion.

“Any woman seeking reproductive health services in Alberta should be able to do so in a safe and timely manner,” said Marie Renaud, NDP MLA for St. Albert. “The last time this issue was in front of the legislature, the UCP literally walked out of the debate. Now, it seems they would rather focus on bringing in American-style healthcare to pay for their $4.5 billion gift to wealthy corporations than supporting reproductive health services for women.”

The vote came following the introduction of a motion by Renaud, which called on the government to conduct a thorough review of access to abortion services and reproductive health services, take action to remove barriers to these services, and ensure access to safe, timely, and equitable services in all communities across the province. 

“Given the connection between sexual assault, unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, easy access to reproductive health services (including abortion) is a key factor for survivors in coping with the many negative after effects of experiencing sexual assault,” said Deb Tomlinson, CEO of the Association of Albert Sexual Assault Services.

Within Alberta, access is largely restricted to the Edmonton and Calgary Regions. There is currently one abortion provider in Edmonton, and two abortion providers in Calgary. Surgical abortion is not currently offered as a service on a regular basis at any other locations in the Province. 

Additional barriers to receiving this critical care include harassment of practitioners, a lack of access to the resources necessary for service provision (i.e. operating spaces), and a lack of comprehensive record-keeping and referral systems.