New Brunswick

Brian Gallant wades in to abortion debate

Brian Gallant is the third New Brunswick Liberal Leadership candidate to wade in to the debate over abortion policy.

Liberal leadership candidate declares himself 'pro-choice'

Brian Gallant is the third New Brunswick Liberal leadership candidate to wade in to the debate over abortion policy.

In a statement released Tuesday, Gallant said he is in favour of a woman's right to choose.

"I am pro-choice," he wrote.

The issue flared up after Liberal leadership candidate Michael Murphy responded to discussions on social media.

He said despite not being "entirely comfortable" with existing abortion laws in New Brunswick, he considered abortion a non-issue in the leadership race.

He said the decision is between a woman and her doctor but he would allow a free vote on the issue if his Liberal caucus wanted it.

Gallant responded in his letter that the issue is too complex to discuss on social media and said the province has bigger problems to deal with.

He said no one has raised the issue of abortion on his campaign around the province.

"This is, of course, an issue where opinions diverge, but the people I have talked to are more concerned with jobs, our fiscal situation, the economy, education, healthcare and in ensuring that future generations will have the opportunity to stay in the province and succeed," Gallant said.

"To focus on such a divisive issue when we should be working together to face our serious fiscal, economic, and demographic challenges is, in my opinion, a mistake."

In the statement, Gallant doesn’t take a position on the provincial policy that requires a woman to get the approval of two doctors before she qualifies for an abortion funded through Medicare.

He said that is before the courts and he’ll let the judicial system do its work.

He said although he’s pro-choice, he thinks social programs can be used to lower the rate of abortion.

Gallant doesn’t mention New Brunswick's legal dispute with Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who is trying to force Medicare to cover abortions at his clinic in Fredericton.