Saskatchewan cabinet minister tells pro-life rally he will 'continue the fight'

REGINA — Saskatchewan's rural and remote health minister is defending himself after speaking to a pro-life rally.

Greg Ottenbreit told the crowd that he would "continue the fight."

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The NDP Opposition has zeroed in on his comments as it pushes to have the cost of the abortion pill Mifegymiso covered by the provincial government.

Nearly every other province has it covered and when it’s not, the drug can cost hundreds of dollars.

Ottenbreit says his "continue the fight" comment referred to bringing the group's views to the Saskatchewan Party government caucus.

He says he personally opposes abortion but notes that reproductive rights are the law of the land.

"I'm one voice in a cabinet of 18 and of a caucus of 48, and everybody brings their views to the table for consideration in respect to their constituents and their wishes," Ottenbreit said Thursday.

Vicki Mowat, the NDP's health critic, said it's fine for a minister to hold personal beliefs.

"But this is about him being the minister of rural and remote health and ensuring that women in rural and remote areas have access to reproductive care," she said.

Mowat accused the government of "slow-walking" the Mifegymiso decision.

She said the drug should be given universal coverage because it costs less than a surgical procedure, reduces barriers and increases access to reproductive services.

Health Minister Jim Reiter said if a patient or private insurance doesn't pay for the drug, then the taxpayer will have to.

He said there are alternative programs for the lowest-income people to get prescription drugs paid for.

Premier Scott Moe weighed in on the subject in the legislature.

Moe said there is room for different views when it comes to matters of conscience, but abortion is the law of the land and Saskatchewan Party members support the policy of the government.

Last month, the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan urged the provincial government to provide universal coverage for the abortion pill.

Spokeswoman Lara Witt said many women who want to use Mifegymiso aren't covered and the cost is anywhere from $300 to $450. (CJME, The Canadian Press)

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