PANSOW seeks clarification regarding mandatory counselling for Mifegymiso

The following letter was sent to the Hon. Dr. John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services via email at the end of May 2018. PANSOW requested clarification on his comments regarding the need for women to receive counselling before being prescribed the abortion pill, Mifegymiso. To date, no response has been received from his office. We urge you to join us in contacting the Minister of Health and Community Services to ensure that Mifegymiso is readily available to all women throughout the province through clinics and their family doctor without the need for mandatory counselling. 

Dear Minister John Haggie,

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is seeking clarification on your statement in regards to counselling for the abortion pill, Mifegymiso. Are you suggesting that women receive mental health counselling before being prescribed the medication or just a discussion with their doctor about potential side-effects of the medication?

PANSOW represents the eight Status of Women Councils of this province and we are pro-choice organizations that support people’s right to choose. We want to see Mifegymiso covered by MCP and that every family doctor or nurse practitioner can prescribe it to their patients.

It is important that women from any area of the province, particularly rural and remote areas, have access to this much needed and time sensitive service. Requiring women to access counselling before they can be prescribed the medication is a barrier with already lengthy wait times for counselling throughout the province or simply unavailable in some parts of the province.

We look forward to your response.

Thank you,

Janice Kennedy, Co-Chair of PANSOW

Media Contact
Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.753.0220

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Statement on the tragic death of an incarcerated woman in Clarenville

With the recent news of the death of a woman who was incarcerated in the Newfoundland and Labrador Correctional Centre for Women in Clarenville, our immediate thoughts went to her family and loved ones, and all the women who remain in the Clarenville prison. We mourn and remember her.

For the last five years, staff from the St. John’s Women’s Centre, Marguerite’s Place supportive housing program, and the Safe Harbour Outreach Project (SHOP) have been welcomed into this women’s prison – the only official women’s prison in our province – to provide more community support, programming, and advocacy for criminalized women before, during, and after their incarceration.

Through this work, we have come to know that the majority of incarcerated women are women living below the poverty line, women dealing with homelessness and unstable, unsafe housing, women who are Indigenous, women who have untreated mental health care needs and untreated addictions, and women who have experienced sexual and physical violence. We have come to see the impacts of our province sending some of our most marginalized women to chronically overcrowded and under-resourced prisons instead of doing the work to divert women in our criminal justice system to essential services and supports that they need.

These are women from our communities, from our towns, from our outports, from our provinces, from our lands, and we have a responsibility to remember them and make sure they are not left behind. We must amplify the voices and experiences of women behind bars.

During this tragic time, we are listening to women who are grieving, offering kindness and care, and telling everyone who will listen that women in prisons are valued and loved. We recognize incarcerated women for their dignity, their ability to care for one another behind prison walls, and their resilience.

We call on our communities to join us in learning from criminalized women, listening to their needs, and advocating for better futures for all of them. We also call on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to organize an immediate assessment on the health care needs of women in prison, to be conducted in partnership with front line services and organizations supporting criminalized women before, during, and after incarceration.