Anti-abortion rally draws hundreds to legislature
15th annual March for Life comes on the heels of announcement Morgentaler clinic will close
Hundreds of anti-abortion protesters staged a protest in front of the legislature on Thursday before marching silently through the streets of Fredericton.
New Brunswick Right to Life has organized the annual march for 15 years. But with New Brunswick's abortion policy making headlines once again following the announcement the private abortion clinic founded by Henry Morgentaler will close at the end of July, organizers were expecting protesters from throughout the province.
Organizers say they are "rightly concerned about the possible direction of our province."
New Brunswick requires that two doctors agree an abortion is medically necessary and that it be performed by a gynecologist in a hospital setting.
Morgentaler had been locked in a legal battle with the province over its refusal to pay for private clinic abortions for 12 years when he died in May 2013.
Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Jody Carr addressed the protesters on behalf of the 18 members of the Progressive Conservative government who attended the protest.
Carr told them the Conservatives are the only party that will maintain the existing "medically necessary" policy.
Some in the crowd booed Carr's commitment to the existing policy, feeling that provides too much access to abortion.
While opposition policies in New Brunswick have called for a loosening of the abortion restrictions, Carr was implicitly stating the Conservatives status quo policy is the most restrictive of any of the parties. It is not clear whether the marchers would favour or oppose the existing "medically necessary" policy."
At one point, the protesters marched in front of the Morgentaler clinic on Brunswick Street. Clinic workers and supporters stood outside the clinic with their backs turned on the protesters in the street.
Harper questioned on abortion access
On Wednesday, Liberal MPs Dominic LeBlanc, Hedy Fry and Carolyn Bennett released a letter they wrote to Health Minister Rona Ambrose, saying they believe New Brunswick's regulations contravene the accessibility principle of the Canada Health Act.
Asked about that concern at an announcement in Fredericton on Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said "Our government is going to do everything we can to keep from reopening that debate."
"The administration of health care is in the hands of the provinces," said Harper.
"We have a big party where we understand the Canadian people have different views on issues like this. All such views are welcome in the Conservative Party of Canada."