A woman said to change her « abortion is health care » shirt before entering Saskatchewan. Legislature
An abortion rights activist has been asked to flip her shirt so she can enter the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly as a visitor on Wednesday.
Megan Johnston launched a poster campaign this summer focused on the phrase Abortion is health care.
Johnston’s shirt had the same phrase.
She and abortion rights groups and providers were in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly on Wednesday as opposition guests to call on the provincial government to improve access to abortion.
Groups attended Question Period inside the Legislative Assembly.
Johnston said when she took off her coat after entering the building, security at the main entrance told her she needed to change.
« I couldn’t wear my shirt in the building and had to return it, » she said. « I was escorted by security to the bathroom to make sure my shirt was turned down so that word – I’m assuming ‘abortion’ not ‘healthcare’ – was not visible in the room. . »
CBC contacted the government for comment and was told it was looking into the matter and would provide a response on Thursday.
Today I was not allowed to wear this shirt inside the legislative building and was escorted by security to return it (not inside out, inside out) #ABORTION is not a dirty word!!!! #abortionishealthcare pic.twitter.com/ujbjP0DIVl
This fall, a new team took over security inside and outside the building, replacing the Sergeant-at-Arms and his staff.
Bill 70, passed in the spring, saw the government appoint a director of security, leaving the sergeant-at-arms solely in charge of safety and security inside the assembly.
The Legislative Assembly’s website says visitors should not hold demonstrations inside the building.
« Protests are not permitted inside the Legislative Building. No signs, megaphones or anything that could be used in connection with a protest may be brought into the building. »
Johnston said his shirt was not controversial and was not a demonstration but a fact.
« I was shocked. I was surprised. I thought, what if I wore a shirt that said knee surgery is healthcare or optometry is healthcare? »
Supporters call for increased access and streamlined processes
Johnston was joined by Planned Parenthood Regina, Saskatoon Sexual Health, the Regina Abortion Support Network, abortion providers and medical students.
Groups and the opposition are calling on the provincial government to improve access to abortion. They want the creation of a provincial admissions system that would provide abortion referrals to all women, no matter where they live in the province.
They also want surgical abortion centers in Prince Albert and Saskatoon, like the one in Regina.
Women in northern Saskatchewan, where there are no abortion clinics, must travel to Saskatoon and find a doctor willing to perform a surgical abortion before the 14-week limit, much sooner than in other other jurisdictions.
Julian Wotherspoon of the Regina Abortion Support Network, a volunteer group, also attended the question period.
« These barriers are real and they exist. It shouldn’t be unpaid volunteers dealing with this problem. Our government has a responsibility to us as human beings to provide this health care, » Wotherspoon said.
Wotherspoon took issue with a response from Health Minister Paul Merriman, who said it was normal for people to travel from a rural area or small community to a large center to have an abortion.
“This surgery is already available in other communities. It is available. If I were to come to the emergency room with an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage, I would receive what amounts to the same care as if I were seeking an elective abortion. «
Wotherspoon said it was not a matter of staff or doctors, but a « choice our government is making ».
Merriman said the province does not offer other surgeries in « every corner of the province. »
« For any surgery, we want to make sure it’s done in an efficient way, and for this specific surgery, it’s done in major centers. We’re not denying anyone access. »
Merriman said the government removed barriers with the approval of the abortion pill Mifegymiso and the decision to include it in the provincial drug plan in 2019.
He said this spring « inconsistencies » around abortion access have come up and the provincial government and the Saskatchewan Health Authority are consulting with doctors about it.
But abortion rights advocates have pointed out that not all doctors in Saskatchewan prescribe Mifegymiso in Canada, and not all pharmacies stock it or fill a prescription for it.