April 12, 2019 8:01 pm
Updated: April 15, 2019 8:15 am

Pro-choice group calls health minister’s speech unacceptable

WATCH ABOVE: Rural and remote health minister says pro-life views don't enter government policy.

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A spokeswoman for a national organization that promotes abortion rights says it’s unacceptable that a Saskatchewan health minister spoke at a pro-life rally.

Darrah Teitel of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights says the appearance by Greg Ottenbreit, responsible for rural and remote health, erodes public trust.

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READ MORE: Rural and remote health minister says pro-life views won’t affect abortion pill policy

She says it also raises questions about his intentions with the abortion drug Mifegymiso.

Saskatchewan is one of the only provinces that does not have universal coverage of the drug, and the Saskatchewan Party government is reviewing whether it should cover the full cost for everyone.

Ottenbreit told the crowd gathered for a pro-life association convention last week in Yorkton that he would “continue the fight.”

He defended his actions Thursday by saying that while he opposes abortion, he respects that in Canada it is the law of the land.

READ MORE: Nurse practitioners can now prescribe the abortion pill in Saskatchewan

Health Minister Jim Reiter recently met with a group of medical students from the University of Saskatchewan that is pressing the province to adopt universal coverage of Mifegymiso. It can cost between $300 to $450 for someone who is not covered.

Lara Witt is one of those students and says the government has promised not to let moral views guide its policy decisions.

She said she doesn’t believe members will let anti-abortion feelings interfere with the issue.

Witt expects to meet for a second time with Reiter in May.

READ MORE: Abortion pill prescriptions likely to rise after 4,253 women used new option last year

The Opposition NDP have been raising universal coverage for the pill in the legislative assembly, including Thursday when Reiter said the drug is accessible, but the only question is who pays for it.

“Just because it’s … in the pharmacy doesn’t mean people can afford it,” Witt said.

“There’s probably a misunderstanding on that front because we do absolutely think it’s an access issue.”

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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