The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, March 31, 2016 1:45PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 31, 2016 2:43PM EDT
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island has agreed to provide abortions within the province by the end of the year, ending decades of forcing women to travel to neighbouring provinces to access the procedure.
The Island’s Liberal government announced Thursday it will not fight a legal challenge launched in the province’s Supreme Court by the group Abortion Access Now, which says the province has an obligation to provide safe abortions under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“We have been advised the probabilities are very low that the province could successfully defend policies that provide a legal, provincially funded medical procedure only if obtained outside of the province,” Premier Wade MacLauchlan told a news conference in Charlottetown.
Currently, women from the Island have to travel to New Brunswick or Nova Scotia to get abortions paid for by the Island government.
Health Minister Robert Henderson says Health PEI has been told to develop plans for a women’s reproductive health centre somewhere on the Island. He says it should be in place by the end of the year.
In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau applauded the announcement.
“The Government of Canada reaffirms its belief that a woman should have access to reproductive health services, no matter where they live in our country,” Trudeau said.
A woman’s right to choose is fundamental in Canada. We welcome today’s announcement by PEI Premier MacLaughlan on reproductive services.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 31, 2016