Health Minister Victor Boudreau says the provincial government’s decision to open up access to abortion in New Brunswick hospitals isn’t opening the door to having the procedure performed in stand-alone clinics.
Premier Brian Gallant announced this week he was removing restrictions that had been imposed on the procedure for two decades, such as the contentious two-doctor rule.
The provincial government has promised to increase access to these services for women.
But Boudreau said the reforms do not include providing abortions in private clinics.
The health minister said that would go against the idea of treating it like other services.
"We do not provide funding for any procedures performed in a private clinic. So again this brings abortion in line with any other insured service,” he said.
That means the procedure will only be done in hospitals.
Some advocates have pushed for the procedures to be available in clinics.
Rosella Melanson, the former executive director of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women, wrote in an op-ed for CBC New Brunswick that public clinics should provide abortion services.
“Hopefully also, public clinics will be opened — women’s interests are not well served by privatization of health care,” she wrote.
“Non-surgical abortions should be facilitated — in some countries, including United Kingdom, France and Scandinavian countries, the majority of abortions are non-surgical and done using medication."
Green Party Leader David Coon said this week that he believes many health services, including abortion, should be taken out of hospitals and put into communities.
Wendy Robbins, a University of New Brunswick professor and a long-time advocate for ending restrictions on abortion services, said the procedure can be done in doctors’ offices.
She said roughly 6,000 abortions are performed each year in the offices of Ontario doctors.
There are other concerns being raised by groups that are in favour of opening up access to abortion services.
Kathleen Curtis said she’s concerned about how women are going to get into the hospital for the service.
"How are people without family doctors going to be able to get an abortion in a hospital without getting that type of referral?" she said.
The health minister said the provincial government is treating abortion like any other surgery.
"You don't just walk in and ask for a knee replacement. You have to go through a doctor first,” he said.
Boudreau said women will have other options, including going to an after-hours clinic or seeing a nurse practitioner.