Government urged to ponder private abortion contracts
Department recommends planning, Health Minister Victor Boudreau says no changes in the works
The New Brunswick government gave consideration to the question of entering into a contract with private abortion clinics, documents obtained by CBC News under Right to Information laws show.
In January, the Gallant government removed the requirement for women seeking a provincially-funded abortion to have the consent of two doctors. At the time, the government said all provincially-funded abortions would still be done in hospitals.
But the documents obtained by CBC News reveal the question of funding out-of-hospital procedures was posed for consideration.
In an email to Department of Health staff, Deputy Minister Tom Maston points out that the Regional Health Authorities Act allows the minister to enter into a contract with a private abortion clinic.
Maston outlines the questions the government needed to be prepared for in relation to the medicare eligibility changes.
- Abortions may not be offered at all hospitals, Gallant says
- Abortions won't be performed in clinics: Victor Boudreau
- New Brunswick abortion restriction lifted by Premier Brian Gallant
"If we enter into a contract with a private abortion clinic, what are the pros and cons? Do we pay per procedure or an operating grant?"
Under the act, if the minister considers it in the public interest to do so, the minister may either provide or arrange for the health service elsewhere, and may do any other thing that the minister considers necessary to ensure the provision of health services in the province.
"So far, we've instructed the [regional health authorities] to ramp up access, just like we've been saying all along," Boudreau said during an interview on Friday.
"Right now there's no need to," enter into a contract with a private clinic, he said.
"We've said all along we're going to take the time to evaluate the situation, see what the regulation change, what impact that has on the demand, so for the time being it's status quo. There's nothing that's projected to change."
The government is treating abortion services like any other medical procedure, Boudreau said.
"We don't pay for somebody to go get a knee replacement in a private clinic. It's done within the confines of our healthcare system."