New Brunswick

Abortion reforms will cost hospitals more, official says

Abortion reforms in New Brunswick may require more hospital funding, says one official.

Vitalité Health Network expects more patients, requiring more staff, more operating room time

New Brunswick hospitals may require more provincial funding to deal with the pending changes to abortion rules, says one official.

Women seeking abortions will no longer be required to get two doctors to deem the procedure as medically necessary, Premier Brian Gallant announced on Wednesday.

The Dr.-Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton currently has two gynecologists performing about 500 abortions a year. (CBC)
Under the new rules, which make abortions more accessible, non-specialists, such as family doctors will be allowed to perform the procedure.

But all abortions must be performed in hospitals.

The Vitalité Health Network is getting ready to take on more patients within six weeks, when the changes to the law take effect, said spokesperson Luc Foulem.

Hospitals will need to streamline current procedures, requiring more staff and more operating room time, said Foulem.

And all of that, he said, will cost more money.

"That is obviously one element that will be discussed with the provincial government and the Department of Health to be sure we can accommodate that," he said.

Gallant has said the cost of the new abortion services will be $1.2 million in the first year and up to $700,000 the following year, with money coming from current budgets.

Dr. Karine Arseneault says 500 abortions are currently performed each year at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre.

As it stands, Arseneault is one of two gynecologists who do the surgery at the Moncton-based hospital.

She says doctors have been waiting years for the provincial government to loosen its abortion rules.

Many family doctors want to be trained to perform the procedure, she said.

The so-called two-doctor rule has been in place for two decades, supported by previous Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments.