Without Providers, Abortion Complications Get Much More Dangerous

Usually when an outsider thinks of Prince Edward Island, he or she envisions picturesque fields and an Anne of Green Gables-esque village. Instead, it may be known less for its idyllic L.M. Montgomery backstory and more for its refusal to offer standard medical assistance to those who are suffering from complications due to an abortion.

Courtney Cudmore knew her medication abortion wasn’t proceeding the way it was supposed to, and like all patients taking the miscarriage-inducing drug she was informed that if she experienced anything unusual she should go to a hospital. Once she arrived at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, however, she was stunned to learn that the doctors were refusing to treat her because she was having an abortion. Instead, after a massive wait, the physician told her to go to Halifax where there was an abortion clinic.

“The doctor came in, looked at my chart, and basically said that there was nothing he could do,” Cudmore told CBCNews. “I don’t know what’s going on inside of me, just wanted some sort of answers so I left the hospital crying.”

Cudmore isn’t alone in her experience, according to the P.E.I. Abortion Rights Network. Like many areas of Canada, although abortion is technically legal, finding a person who can perform one is a much bigger obstacle. New Brunswick was left without an elective abortion clinic for months, making it impossible to access a termination without approval from two doctors at a local hospital to sign off on the procedure, and many provinces have less than a handful of providers spread across the entire area.

In Prince Edward Island, abortion is only provided via medication, and there are no non-medication abortion clinics locally. In the rare occasion that the medication fails or there are retained products of conception, a person in the midst of the abortion has no option other than to go to a hospital for a D&C to complete the termination. Now, that treatment is in itself unreliable since physicians are deciding to refuse to perform the procedure as basic emergency follow up care.

According to Kate McKenna at Vice News, trying to obtain an abortion in the P.E.I. comes through the result of participating in an increasingly silent network, where abortions are available by word of mouth, a moment of luck at finding the right doctor who will prescribe the medication, and the desperate hope that the pregnant person doesn’t need any sort of follow up care that will expose her to the whims and moral codes of the doctors who happen to be on duty at the local hospital. “Research out of the University of PEI has revealed that not a single doctor on the island provides post-prescription care or check-ups, while other women risk being shamed or refused care, like Cudmore, if they go into walk-in clinics asking for medical abortions,” writes McKenna.

She adds that abortion rights activists “are adamant that the problem isn’t medical abortions: it’s that everything must be done in secret, out of fear for political and social ramifications from the Prince Edward Island government or the anti-abortion community.”

Even politicians are admitting that this veil of secrecy is creating a crisis for those who want to end a pregnancy. “They’re just making it terribly difficult and making it judgmental, and making women, at a very vulnerable time, making life even more difficult for them,” Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker told CBCNews. “We need to end that political timidity, and stand up and say Island women deserve access in the same way that all other women in Canada currently do.”

It is imperative that P.E.I. open an actual clinic that provides full-scale abortion care, both medication and vacuum aspiration and D&C. This would allow pregnant people to access services without whispers and word of mouth referrals, and give them a place where they can guarantee that they will be treated in the case of an incomplete abortion. People legally terminating a pregnancy deserve care.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S11 months ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven11 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Caroline B.
Caroline B2 years ago

It is despicable to me that a Dr would put personal beliefs before a woman's life.

Sandra D.
Sandra D2 years ago

Doctors that refuse to treat patients in distress should be fired.period...and then sued for breaking their oaths and any damages resulting from their lack of empathy or any treatment. That this happened to a woman who had received a medication abortion makes this a hate crime by bigots and misogynists and should be tried as such in a court and should not be forgotten by any Canadian woman -- especially in PEI -- during the next election! A doctor is just a human being with 7 years of education, not some judge or omnipotent being that has the right to judge or tell people how to live or what to do with their bodies. Shameful that these people have the nerve to call themselves doctors!

Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

I have no doubt about that! Thank you for sharing this with us.

Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you for sharing this with us. Very informative!

Warren Webber
Warren Webber2 years ago

Sign my petition to end workplace sexual harassment in Ghana!


Karen H.
Karen H2 years ago

When our politicians stop spending all their time crying about same-sex marriage and abortion, maybe they'll get around to creating the jobs they promised.
I still haven't seen any politician successfully live a month on what we get in food stamps, yet they want to dictate what we can eat.
It sucks to be a senior citizen in America sometimes.

Michelle Krogman
Michelle Krogman2 years ago

Thank you.