Ford promises to maintain abortion access, other Ontario leaders pledge to expand it

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford pledged Wednesday to maintain abortion access in the province, while the other three main parties said they would expand it if elected in June.

The party leaders faced questions about the issue on the campaign trail in the wake of a leaked draft ruling from the United States Supreme Court that would strike down the right to legal abortions in that country.

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Ford, who is seeking re-election, said he would maintain the status quo, but dodged questions about whether or not he welcomes anti-abortion views among members of his caucus. In 2019, three members of his caucus attended an anti-abortion rally at the legislature.

"We're not changing anything in Ontario," Ford said during an appearance in Brampton, Ont. "We're keeping it exactly the same."

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she would increase access to abortion in northern and rural parts of the province by investing in health-care facilities and staffing in those regions.

"Every woman, every person that needs abortion services should be able to get those services without any worries, without any trouble and without any lengthy waits that would prevent them from having a safe procedure," she said.

"We need to make sure that the services are there in every part of Ontario for women who need them."

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said he would protect and enhance access to safe abortions. His party said it would invest $15 million to enhance access to women's health services, including abortion services, if elected.

"These are rights that cannot be taken for granted," Del Duca said. "They are frail. There are always those in society who are prepared to try to move us backwards in this regard."

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said he would expand the number of women's health clinics and abortion clinics in Ontario.

Abortion is decriminalized in Canada because of a 1988 Supreme Court decision here.

With files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter, Liam Casey and Maan Alhmidi.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2022.