Human rights agency will review abortion policy
The New Brunswick government has lost a bid to block the Human Rights Commission from investigating the province's abortion policy.
The policy has been a source of controversy for years and is at the centre of an ongoing lawsuit, which was filed by Dr. Henry Morgentaler, Canada's leading abortion activist.
With the Morgentaler lawsuit still in the court system, an unnamed doctor filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on two grounds. The doctor argued that, on behalf of women, the provincial government's restrictions on access to abortion are discriminatory.
As well, the doctor argued the restrictions make it difficult for her to help her patients get a full range of medical services.
The provincial government only pays for an abortion performed in hospitals and a woman must have two doctors certify that it's medically necessary.
The Human Rights Commission agreed last year to hold a board of inquiry but the Department of Health tried to block the attempt.
The department argued both grounds fall outside the Human Rights Act.
Last month, the chair of the Labour Employment Board ruled the provincial government was right on one ground and wrong on another.
Robert Breen's decision says the doctor cannot file the complaint on behalf of women who want abortions.
But the doctor can complain that she faces unfair restrictions in offering her patients medical services.
It will be up to the board of inquiry to decide whether she's right but the hearing can go ahead.
The commission has not scheduled when it will hear the complaint.
The Department of Health won't comment on the decision.
Morgentaler has been fighting the Department of Health's abortion policy since 2002.
He is trying to force medicare to pay for abortions at his clinic in downtown Fredericton.
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.