Quebec abortion guidelines under review after woman denied procedure at 30 weeks
Published Tuesday, December 20, 2016 1:41PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 20, 2016 7:24PM EST
The Quebec College of Physicians says it intends to review its guidelines on abortion access after a Montreal clinic denied a woman’s request to terminate her pregnancy at 30 weeks.
The woman, whose identity has not been made public, sought an abortion at the McGill University Health Centre after she found out there were abnormalities with her fetus. The hospital’s ethics committee denied her request.
The committee’s decision was based on Quebec College of Physicians’ guidelines, which stipulate that abortions after 23 weeks of pregnancy should be done only when there are serious congenital abnormalities, or in “exceptional circumstances.”
It is not clear what types of abnormalities the woman’s fetus had. She ended up getting an abortion elsewhere in Quebec, but her lawyer said she should not have been denied the procedure at MUHC.
Jean-Pierre Menard told reporters Tuesday that the hospital’s decision reflected an “American-style” approach to abortions, and did not follow Canada’s “liberal” laws.
“They are not at all in accordance with the state of the law in Canada,” Menard told CTV Montreal. “Nobody has to assess the merit of her grounds to approve her decision.”
The college says it is reviewing its guidelines and may have new rules in about six months’ time.
“We feel that this is a reality for which our members and the public need more in-depth recommendations,” said Dr. Yves Robert, secretary of the Quebec College of Physicians.
A landmark 1988 Supreme Court of Canada decision found that the country’s ban on abortion was a violation of women’s rights.
"Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a fetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman's body and thus an infringement of security of the person," the decision read, in part.
The MUHC said that it has performed late-term abortions in the past, but in this case the ethics committee did not feel that it should approve the procedure, in part, because there was “no threat to the health of the mother or the future child.”
The Canadian Medical Association says that abortion “should be uniformly available to all women in Canada,” but a physician “should not be compelled to participate in the termination of a pregnancy.”
With a report from CTV Montreal