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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

CONTACT:

NAF Communications Department
202-667-5881
press@prochoice.org

The National Abortion Federation Launches Canadian Public Policy and Outreach Program

NAF to provide direct assistance to Canadian women through national toll-free Hotline (1-800-772-9100)

Today, The National Abortion Federation (NAF), the professional association of abortion providers in Canada and the United States, launched our Canadian Public Policy and Outreach Program. NAF's mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care to promote health and justice for women. We announced our public policy goals and how we will work to improve abortion access for women in Canada. Additionally, NAF will increase direct assistance to Canadian women through our national toll-free Hotline (1-800-772-9100), a place women can call to get unbiased, factual information; options counseling; and referrals to providers of quality care.

Speakers included:

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The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in Canada and the United States. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care to promote health and justice for women. Our members include health care professionals at clinics, doctors' offices, and hospitals, who together care for more than half the women in both countries who choose abortion each year. For more information, visit our website at www.prochoice.org

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Statement of Vicki Saporta, NAF President and CEO

Charles-Lynch Press Conference Room
Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada
May 16, 2006

Good morning. I'm delighted to be here today to launch NAF's Canadian Public Policy and Outreach Program.

As many of you know, NAF is the professional association of abortion providers in Canada and the United States. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care to promote health and justice for women.

Canadian providers have been members of NAF for many years. They include clinics, doctors' offices, and hospitals who together provide quality care for more than half the women in both countries who choose abortion each year.

Our Canadian members have participated in our continuing medical education, quality assurance, security, and other programs. Now, NAF is further expanding our outreach and services in Canada to address members' public policy needs at the federal, provincial, and territorial levels.

We thank the Members of Parliament and the Senate, Senator Lucie Pepin, Honorable Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Irene Mathyssen, and Penny Priddy for joining us today and for their leadership in ensuring women's reproductive freedom.

Even though there is no law restricting abortion in Canada, access to abortion care remains a problem for many women. We are concerned that abortions are not fully funded in all provinces and territories; that access to funded abortions is unavailable in some areas, that inter-provincial billing continues to be a problem, and that some provinces have placed limits on the number of abortions allowed in facilities in a given year.

For example, in New Brunswick, Dr. Henry Morgentaler is in a legal battle with the provincial government to have them comply with the funding requirements of the Canada Health Act. Most people don't realize that it takes two doctors' approval to get an abortion in the one hospital in Fredericton that provides them. And we just learned, moments ago, that the hospital will stop providing abortions at the end of June. That means that women in New Brunswick will have no access to funded abortions in violation of the Canada Health Act.

Additionally, right here in Ontario, there are not an adequate number of abortions funded to meet the need. Therefore some women are required to wait until the second trimester to get an abortion. This delay puts women at additional risk.

We plan on working with NAF members, elected officials, and other Canadian organizations involved with women's reproductive health and rights to address these issues. We will advocate with the Ministries of Health, at all levels of government, to correct the long standing inequities in abortion access and ensure that women are able to receive the reproductive health care that is guaranteed by the Canada Health Act. We will work to remove abortion from the list of excluded services in the inter-provincial reciprocal billing agreement to ensure that fully funded abortion services are available to Canadian women in all regions of the country. We want to ensure that abortion services are adequately funded throughout Canada.

With the assistance of our pro-choice allied organizations and the pro-choice members of Parliament here today, we will help ensure that women can access the reproductive health care they need regardless of where they live or their socio-economic status.

In addition to our public policy work, NAF will increase direct assistance to Canadian women through our national toll-free Hotline. Our Hotline (1-800-772-9100) is a place women can call to get unbiased, factual information; options counseling; and referrals to providers of quality care if they choose abortion. Our case managers work with women in difficult situations to ensure that they get the care they need. Women who call the Hotline can be assured of confidentiality and that they will only be referred to NAF providers - providers who offer the highest quality care.

I'd now like to introduce the chair of the NAF Board of Directors, Dr. Pat Smith. Dr. Smith is a family physician who has provided abortions in Southern Ontario for many years. She's also been very active in training medical students and residents in abortion care.

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Statement of Pat Smith, MD, Chair of the NAF Board of Directors

Charles-Lynch Press Conference Room
Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada
May 16, 2006

Thank you Vicki, for your support and leadership.

I am proud to be the first chair of NAF from Canada. As a physician, I know the importance of access to quality health care.

One of my concerns is that training in comprehensive reproductive health care including abortion is not currently offered as part of the core training in undergraduate medical education or as a part of required training in all ob/gyn or family practice residency programs. This limits the ability of physicians to provide comprehensive reproductive health care to their patients. Medical schools must provide training opportunities for medical students and residents to ensure that future generations of Canadian women have access to quality abortion care.

To address these issues, NAF will reach out to medical schools and residency programs to offer NAF's educational resources to help ensure that abortion is included in their curricula. We will also work to facilitate more training opportunities for medical students and residents at NAF member facilities.

NAF's expanded activities in Canada will go a long way to help us ensure that women have access to comprehensive high-quality reproductive health care services.

I'd now like to introduce the Members of Parliament who are with us today, Honorable Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Irene Mathyssen, and Penny Priddy.

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