The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade has put a spotlight on the right to choose and access abortion services here in Canada. Abortion is health care. But although it has been decriminalized in Canada for decades, it remains inaccessible to far too many due to geography and a lack of health care providers offering services.
While the US Supreme Court decision doesn’t directly change our laws, Albertans are rightly concerned. We aren’t immune from the politics of those who seek to roll back the right to choose here in Canada.
We have many anti-choice politicians elected in our country, especially in Alberta. For instance, Arnold Viersen, MP for Peace River-Westlock, is a well-known anti-abortion activist and openly celebrated the decision by the US Supreme Court. He has also endorsed former Finance Minister Travis Toews in the ongoing UCP leadership race, a fellow self-proclaimed 'pro-life' politician. At a recent debate, Toews said he would expand conscience rights for health care providers if he were to become premier.
Albertans have seen this before: talk of expanding “conscience rights” in health care is political pandering and completely unnecessary to both patients and health care providers.
Currently, the right to deny care on the basis of conscientious objection is already extended to all regulated health professions, including doctors, pharmacists, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, social workers, and many others. In the case of physicians, The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta has addressed this issue in the CPSA Standards of Practice, clarifying that while a provider has every right to decline to perform a service, they must respectfully and promptly provide a referral to a provider who is willing to perform the service and provide resources with accurate information about all available medical options.
Previous attempts to enact such conscience rights legislation amounted to no more than thinly veiled attacks on access to legal health care services such as abortion, gender-affirming care, and Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). All the while, Albertans continue to face significant barriers to accessing the reproductive health care services they need.
We must do better. As anti-abortion voices are being emboldened by the supreme court decision over the border, now is the time to let our decision makers know that we need action to protect abortion rights and expand access to reproductive health care.
Stand up for Albertans' reproductive health and rights — Add your voice to the petition below!
Sign the petition below to support reproductive health care services in Alberta and oppose the expansion of so-called ‘conscience rights’ in health care!
Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, in the Legislature Assembled:
WHEREAS, the right to deny care on the basis of personal conscience objection is already extended to all regulated health professions;
WHEREAS, attempts to expand conscience rights in health care are designed to put personal beliefs before patient care;
WHEREAS, attempts to expand conscience rights would restrict access to health care services including abortions, gender-affirming care and medical assistance in dying (MAiD);
WHEREAS, legal health care services, including abortion and other reproductive health services, are already limited and often geographically difficult for many Albertans to access;
WHEREAS, our legislators have an ethical responsibility to uphold sexual and reproductive health and rights in Alberta, and a legal responsibility to ensure access to all necessary health services for all Albertans.
We, the undersigned residents of Alberta, petition the Legislative Assembly of Alberta to oppose any plans to expand so-called conscience rights within health care.
We, the undersigned residents of Alberta, also petition the Legislative Assembly of Alberta to oppose any plans to restrict the right to choose and oppose any plans which would restrict access to abortions, or other sexual and reproductive health care services;
We, the undersigned residents of Alberta, also petition the Legislative Assembly of Alberta to work to expand access to sexual and reproductive health care in Alberta, including abortion services.