Wednesday, 25 March 2015

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar Department

Le Devoir this morning carried a front page story in which a group of feminist medical types warn that new omnibus legislation restructuring the health care system in Quebec might make it harder for women to get abortions in the province.  Anne-Marie Messier, director of the Centre des santé des femmes, and 30 others had written a letter to the crusty Health Minister Gaétan Barrette charging that  a draft rule, attached to the bill, would do such things as put a cap of 504 abortions per doctor per year.  The figure works out to less than ten per week, which is far fewer than health professionals at abortion clinics provide.

However, shortly after sunrise when the newspaper article began to circulate both Barrette and Premier Philippe Couillard took the airwaves, saying that that the government has no intention of restricting abortion. The quota would not apply doctors who specialized in teh procedure.  By afternoon Le Devoir  had changed its headline and modified the story.

The prompt action is very interesting.  Obviously the groundswell of protest that flooded call-ins and social media this morning convinced Quebec's leading class that this was a debate they didn't want. As Chantal Hébert said on the Radio Canada morning show C'est pas trop, the last thing any government in Canada wants at this point is to get involved in the abortion question. Even Stephen Harper, who has a flock of backbenchers against abortion, would rather have dissension in caucus than to open the debate, she pointed out.

So score one for the women who jumped into the fray immediately. 

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