New Brunswick

Doctor loses legal fight over abortion policy

A New Brunswick judge has ruled the labour board cannot conduct a hearing into whether the province's abortion policy is violating a doctor's ability to offer accessible health care.

Justice Paulette Garnett ruled a doctor was not directly affected by the abortion policy

A Court of Queen’s Bench justice has ruled the New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board cannot conduct a hearing into whether the province’s abortion policy is violating a doctor’s ability to offer accessible health care.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Paulette Garnett ruled there wasn't enough evidence to conduct a board of inquiry into the doctor’s complaints.

Garnett said because the doctor, who is identified only as A.A., wasn’t directly affected by the abortion policy, she was only acting on behalf of her patients.

The judge said the complaint lacked sufficient information to show the problems with accessibility. So the judge quashed the Labour and Employment Board’s decision to have a board of inquiry into the matter.

The doctor’s identity is protected under a publication ban.

In 2008, A.A. filed a complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission where she claimed the provincial government’s policy on abortion discriminated against her female clients and prevented her from giving essential medical care.

The province’s policy will not cover the cost of abortion in a private clinic and requires two doctors to consent to a medically needed abortion in a hospital.

The human rights commission handed the complaint to Labour and Employment Board. 

The board said the doctor couldn’t bring a complaint on behalf of her patients but thought there was merit in having a board of inquiry in accessibility of getting an abortion and that’s when the provincial government stepped into fight.

The provincial government asked for a judicial review on the board’s decision.

No one from the Department of Justice would comment on the judge's ruling.

In a separate case, Morgentaler, who runs an abortion clinic in downtown Fredericton, has been fighting the abortion policy since 2002, trying to force medicare to pay for abortions at his clinic.

Officials at the Morgentaler abortion clinic in Toronto would not comment on the ruling.

Women who have abortions at Morgentaler's clinic pay the $750 fee themselves.

In 2009, the New Brunswick government lost its bid to halt Morgentaler's lawsuit.

The provincial government had argued that Morgentaler did not have legal standing to sue over the abortion law because, unlike women who have abortions, he was not directly affected.