Federal officials are investigating whether Canadian healthcare workers could face legal risks for providing abortion services to Americans from states where the procedure has been banned.
A spokeswoman for Health Canada said the government is reviewing the matter in response to concerns raised by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, which provides legal support to doctors, about the potential cross-border consequences of the Supreme Court ruling. of the United States last month to overturn the 1973 law. decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
“We understand that many Canadians, including many of our member physicians, have expressed an interest in making abortion easier for American patients,” CMPA CEO Lisa Calder wrote in a letter. addressed to several ministers this week.
“At the same time, our members are expressing concern about the increased risk of medical-legal difficulties. »
Calder called on federal officials to work with their provincial counterparts to protect Canadian doctors from possible lawsuits if U.S. states try to block residents from accessing abortions outside of their borders.
“The CMPA is aware that some states in the United States are considering legislation that would potentially allow for criminal and civil lawsuits to be brought against health care providers who perform abortions on out-of-state residents,” it said. -she writes.
A CMPA spokeswoman declined to specify which possible rules Calder was referring to.
The association provides legal assistance and liability protection to more than 105,000 Canadian physicians, Calder wrote, but cannot help with legal matters in other countries. The association has encouraged its members who offer abortions to American patients to seek additional liability protection.
In an email to The Canadian Press, Health Canada spokeswoman Anna Maddison said the federal government “unequivocally” supports access to safe abortions, including for Americans, but that they should pay the service out of pocket.
Provinces are responsible for managing physician liability protection, Maddison said. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice makes decisions regarding assistance to foreign countries in legal matters, she said.
“Any action by the federal government to protect Canadian healthcare workers would depend on the ability of a specific US state to pursue extraterritorial action,” she wrote in an email Thursday.
—Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press