As Robyn Urback says over at the National Post:
The issue is not one of pro-life versus pro-choice. Indeed, both sides should be concerned about an amendment made to Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection Privacy Act (FIPPA) made on January 1, 2012, which prohibited the official release of any abortion-related information. Slipped in as part of Bill 122, an act purportedly about public sector financial accountability, the change to Section 65 effectively rendered provincial abortion data after 2010 untouchable to the general public. Freedom of Information (FOI) requests on the topic would not be satisfied. […]
Now, Maloney has taken the issue to the Divisional Court at the Superior Court of Justice, seeking a judicial review of the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s order to deny her request. The decision will have very real implications on the legitimacy of the Section 65 amendment as it relates to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the principle of open government and transparency in Ontario (which, granted, is hard to refer to without a smirk given the ongoing saga of deleted gas plant emails in Ontario). Though Maloney is pro-life when it comes to her personal abortion beliefs, Ontarians on both sides of the debate should stand behind her judicial actions.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
And Margaret Somerville weighs in at the Ottawa Citizen:
But placing restrictions on public access to information about abortions is anti-democratic, said Margaret Somerville, director of McGill University’s Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law.
“Democracy says that we’ve all got a voice in the public square,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that we’re going to prevail, but it means that we’ve got a right to speak and to be heard. The problem is, you can’t speak and you certainly can’t be heard if you haven’t got the information on which to base what you say.”
Somerville said politicians are uncomfortable with the discussion and, by restricting information, could believe they are lessening the chance the issue will be brought up in parliament.
“No matter what you think about whether abortions should be legal or not, everybody agrees that the less abortions there are, the better it is; nobody is in favour of abortion. You can’t point out what a major issue this is unless you have the information.”
I’ve been aware of this case since Pat broke the news at her blog in May 2012, but it still blows my mind. The Ontario government unilaterally decided to block access to data about procedures we fund. The tax-payers and electorate apparently just don’t need to know. They’ve got it handled. Unreal.by