Media Release — For Immediate Release June 2, 2004
Candidates Should Focus on Improving Abortion Access
VANCOUVER — Canada's pro-choice community today denounced MP Rob Merrifield's recent proposal for third party "informed consent" counseling for women who have abortions.
"Women seeking abortions already receive adequate informed consent from their doctors or from trained counselors at abortion clinics," said Joyce Arthur, spokesperson for the Pro-Choice Action Network. "Women aren't sturelease-Jun-2-04pid, they don't need to be told twice, or be force-fed anti-abortion propaganda disguised as informed consent."
Arthur said, "It's an insult to professional healthcare workers to declare that a third party needs to step in and do their job for them, especially when this requirement singles out abortion and no other medical service." Arthur noted that doctors are governed by professional codes of ethics such as that of the Canadian Medical Association (www.cma.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/3293/la_id/1.htm). This code contains informed consent guidelines that cover all medical services and treatments.
In addition, Arthur confirmed that abortion clinic counselors already provide women with complete, accurate, and unbiased information on all pregnancy options, as well as information on birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, the side effects and possible complications of abortion, as well as other necessary or requested information. "Obviously, no extra regulation is required for abortion," she said. "Legislating informed consent would simply impede women's access to this required health service."
"Merrifield has let his anti-choice ideology trump his common sense. Forcing anti-abortion policies into an election campaign is political suicide," said Arthur. "Look at how Stephen Harper and other Conservative MP's immediately distanced themselves and their party from Merrifield's comments."
"What candidates should be discussing instead during this election campaign is how to improve and streamline access to abortion." Arthur noted there are four provinces still flouting the Canada Health Act by refusing to fully fund abortions in clinics. Also, fewer than one in five hospitals in Canada even perform abortions. "We want MP's from all parties to put pressure on provinces to obey the law and fund required health services like abortion, and to help their women constituents by ensuring abortion services are available at local hospitals."