No changes planned to abortion access in Alberta, government leaders say

Alberta government leaders say they have no plans to change access to abortion in the province following a leak and a potentially historic Supreme Court ruling. United States.

“There have been no policy changes regarding this procedure and none have been proposed,” Premier Jason Kenney said during Question Period in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.

But when questioned by Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, Kenney refrained from committing to a United Conservative Party government ever reducing access to abortion in the province.

“The MP is trying to create controversy where there is none in Alberta,” Kenney said.

En route to the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, Health Minister Jason Copping and Associate Minister for Women’s Affairs Whitney Issik reiterated that the UCP government has no plans to change access to abortion. Nor did they commit to improving access to the service.

Issik, who describes himself as pro-choice, acknowledged that people living in rural and remote areas have to travel to urban centers to have an abortion.

“We will continue to provide services to women for all women’s health issues,” she said.

The wave of attention follows news on Monday of a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft ruling in which the majority of justices say they are set to overturn a landmark 1973 ruling that legalized the abortion in this country.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Notley and other women from the NDP caucus gathered on a staircase outside the Legislature for a press conference. Notley called it a “dark and somber day” for women’s rights and equality and called on the Alberta government to publicly declare its support for women’s reproductive rights.

“I know many Albertans are concerned about this news and what it will mean for the people of this province,” she said.

Alberta Health Services lists abortions available in Edmonton and Calgary. NDP MP and former health minister Sarah Hoffman said some doctors may perform abortions in other locations but do not advertise them for fear of harassment or attack.

Cabinet ministers have played down the ramifications of a possible US Supreme Court ruling in Canada, saying the foreign court’s ruling has no bearing on Canadian law.

Last year, the Pro-Life Alberta Political Association raised funds for all political parties in the province except the NDP and UCP. The anti-abortion party wants to make abortion an election issue.

Amendment to allow female workers to take pregnancy loss leave

The opposition also reiterated calls for changes to a government bill that would guarantee workers up to three days of protected unpaid leave in the event of a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Bill 17 would amend labor laws to expand leave available to workers dealing with the death of a family member.

Advocates who help people who have experienced pregnancy loss want the definition expanded to include workers who have abortions or terminate a pregnancy for medical reasons.

During question period, Labor and Immigration Minister Kaycee Madu said an amendment would be made to the bill, but did not give details.

Earlier, Madu told reporters that nothing in the bill would require an employee to tell their employer how they lost a baby.

“If there is anything that needs to be changed in this particular bill to have different types of pregnancy loss covered in the bill, I am open to that,” Madu said.

Abortions are legal medical procedures in Canada and are covered by Alberta’s public health insurance plan.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that there were more than 74,000 surgical abortions in Canada in 2020, including nearly 12,000 in Alberta. The numbers have been declining since about 2013.

In 2017, the then NDP government of Alberta chose to cover the cost of Mifegymiso, an abortion pill approved for use in Canada during the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Many medical abortions are not counted in national statistics.

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