With the possibility of big changes in the reproductive rights landscape in the United States, some people in Saskatchewan are looking at the accessibility of abortion services here.
When asked about it this week, Prime Minister Scott Moe confirmed again that he is pro-life.
“In saying that, I am very respectful of others who may have a different position from me. I would also say that with regards to my position or any other position in the caucus, that has nothing to do with government policy or the law in the nation of Canada,” Moe said.
“This is a federal law. As long as we are a province within the Dominion of Canada, we will follow that law.”
In Saskatchewan, surgical abortions are only available in Regina and Saskatoon, and only up to 12 weeks in Saskatoon and 18 weeks and six days in Regina. Mifegymiso, an abortifacient, is available in Saskatchewan pharmacies, but can only be used for up to 63 days and requires a prescription.
This week during question period, the NDP asked several questions about the government’s position on abortion and whether it would affirm a commitment to access and rights in Saskatchewan.
In her responses, the Minister for the Status of Women, Laura Ross, said that she supports the right to choose.
“Our government will not and will never prevent access to reproductive rights,” Ross said.
But the NDP’s Nicole Sarauer was disappointed with the prime minister’s responses, saying he was only explaining a “grudging” interest in following the letter of the law.
Sarauer wanted an affirmation that a woman’s right to choose would be protected in Saskatchewan, that access would be improved and barriers removed.
Sarauer said Ross is just one voice in the Saskatchewan Party caucus, some of whom have previously expressed pro-life sentiments. In Sarauer’s mind, this topic cuts across many portfolios.
“That’s why it was so important for the prime minister to stand up and affirm the position of his government, not just Minister Ross’s personal position, but the position of his government,” Sarauer said.
When asked after the question period about barriers such as lack of access in places outside of the two largest cities, Moe suggested that this was a similar problem to other health care services.
“We are a rural and remote province in many cases, so this is not the only health care procedure that is not available in all communities in the province and, most likely, in the future it will not be available in all communities in the province. the province. province,” Moe said.
Hearing that response, Sarauer said, “He just condemned his own government’s record on health care, so I think that speaks for itself.”
Moe also suggested that someone having trouble accessing abortion services could call the health minister’s office for help.
“And we would solve them like we do a lot of other health problems,” Moe said, explaining that the government would solve it on a case-by-case basis.
Sarauer found that suggestion offensive.
“Is this how we’re dealing with health care issues in Saskatchewan? Especially something as delicate as someone who wants to get abortion services? Now they don’t just have to go to their doctor, they have to go to their local politician or minister of health to seek approval for or try to get access to health care services.” Sarauer said.
“I am horrified to think that this prime minister’s suggestion is that the health minister and his office should be involved in this in some way.”
Moe spoke several times about respect in these kinds of conversations: respect for the law in Canada, and respect for people’s opinions and choices.
Asked if his government was interested in or working on expanding access to abortion services, the prime minister passed it off as something better for his health minister to reply.
An emailed statement later said the Saskatchewan Health Authority “continues to look at options to improve access to services in rural communities, including access to abortion services.”