NDP health critic questions why attorney general is answering abortion related questions

An upcoming bill from the Saskatchewan NDP’s health critic Danielle Chartier calls for presumptive coverage from the Workers' Compensation Board for work-related PTSD.
NDP health critic Danielle Chartier. Dave Parsons / Global News

Abortion continues to be a debate topic in the legislative assembly following comments made on the topic by Saskatchewan Party leadership candidates.

NDP health critic Danielle Chartier raised concern over access to reproductive health services in rural Saskatchewan as well as the province seeking a legal opinion on abortion.

Chartier’s rural concerns center on the fact that abortion services are only available in Regina and Saskatoon. Advocates say the end of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) is preventing women in rural areas from accessing the services available in urban areas.

“I would have [Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit] work towards ensuring that women do have equitable access,” Chartier said.

“That would mean providing for Mifegymiso (an abortion pill), making sure that it’s not just on the formulary, but that it’s supported and funded. It isn’t right now and a very small number of women have access to that.”

READ MORE: Abortion pill Mifegymiso starts to arrive in Saskatchewan

Mifegymiso is covered for women on certain social assistance programs. Doctors also need special training to provide prescriptions for the pill. Chartier said under 60 doctors in the province have undergone the voluntary training.

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Chartier also raised questions about the province seeking a legal opinion on parental consent for minors seeking an abortion, based on a report in the StarPhoenix.

Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said they do not discuss the result of a legal opinion and it should not have been released publically. He did confirm it was sought after the issue was raised by a member of caucus.

However, when pressed for details Morgan said he would not comment on the legal opinion and would not speculate on how the actions of the next premier may affect abortion access.

“I don’t know what will happen in Ottawa and I don’t know what will happen elsewhere, but right now we have the decision made by the Supreme Court, we’ve got the Canada Health Act, and that’s what we’ll enforce,” Morgan said.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Party leadership candidate opposes abortion for rape victims

The Saskatchewan Party leadership race brought abortion to the forefront of provincial politics once again after a pro-life group asked the candidates for their views on abortion.

Three candidates, Ken Cheveldayoff, Rob Clarke and Scott Moe, expressed support in discussing restrictions to abortion if chosen as the next Saskatchewan Party Leader. All three have since walked back their comments, saying they are personally against abortion, but respect the Supreme Court of Canada ruling.

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READ MORE: Ken Cheveldayoff clarifies his anti-abortion stance

During question period, Chartier put these questions to Minister Ottenbreit. Morgan answered in both instances.

“I asked a very direct about equitable access to health services in rural and remote Saskatchewan,” Chartier said.

“He didn’t get up in the house, I understand he didn’t come out here. This is his job to address these questions.”

Global News requested an interview with Ottenbreit after question period, but was declined.

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