Here’s an idea, Yukon cabinet. When someone asks you about access to abortion in Yukon, don’t respond by talking about birthing options. Also, maybe don’t refuse to say the word “abortion.”
I get it. For a government that doesn’t have a coordinated plan for sexual and reproductive health in the territory, it can get a little confusing. So let’s break it down.
MLA Jan Stick asked the minister of health what he is doing to ensure Yukon women have timely access to abortion.
He replied that the government has a physician recruiter and is working with the Yukon Hospital Corporation and the Yukon Medical Association to offer “excellent health care for Yukoners.” It’s a lovely sentiment, but not on topic.
The minister of the women’s directorate was also gracious enough to stand up and chat for a bit about menopause, supports for rural pregnant mothers, and midwifery regulations. Of course, none of these deal with abortion. But it’s still nice to know such issues are receiving some attention.
Now, neither minister said the word “abortion” or “contraception” at any point during the three opportunities they had to answer Jan’s question. Their apparent refusal to say these words certainly undermines their credibility on the issue.
Access to abortion is a reproductive right protected under international law.
It may not be a subject that all people feel comfortable talking about – but it is not one that is going to go away by refusing to acknowledge it. Here in Yukon we have one of the highest abortion rates in the country. And a study based on data from Statistics Canada shows 30 per cent of women have had an abortion at some point in their lives.
It’s time for the Yukon government to get on board with the fact that women have sex, that contraception can be costly and doesn’t always work, and that we need improved access to abortion for Yukon women and families.