New Brunswick

N.B. health minister 'not entirely' comfortable enforcing abortion laws

New Brunswick's health minister says he's "not entirely" comfortable administering the province's laws and policies on abortion.

New Brunswick's health minister says his personal view on when life begins makes him "not entirely" comfortable administering the province's laws and policies on abortion.

Michael Murphy was among several Liberal and Progressive Conservative MLAs who attended an anti-abortion rally in front of the legislative assembly on Thursday.

Murphy told the crowd of more than 300 that he believes life begins at conception.

"It is my own personal belief that the unborn, at any stage, is human life, and I believe in human life, and I support it," Murphy said.

That personal view is at odds with provincial regulations that allow abortions in hospitals, he said.

Medicare funds abortions in hospitals if two doctors agree the procedure is medically necessary.

When asked, Murphy admitted his personal beliefs do not make him comfortable in administering some of his duties as health minister.

"Not entirely, but that's the way it is," he said.

Opposition leader David Alward said he has no objection to Murphy's comments about his personal views on abortion and his official role as health minister.

"Myself, I have strong beliefs, strong values. At the same time, when you take an oath as minister you have a responsibility to deliver as minister, and I don't see where that is conflicting, within what Mr. Murphy is saying," Alward said.

Lawyer wants tougher abortion laws

Norm Bosse, an anti-abortion lawyer, told the rally he wants Murphy to tighten abortion regulations. He wants "medically necessary" abortions defined as only when the mother's life is in danger.

Murphy said he has no plans to do that, however.

Bosse said there's no problem with the health minister not acting on his personal views.

"If we had it any other away, I would suspect that a member of the legislature who was a Catholic and had certain religious views may not be able to ever enter that house and sit," he said.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Tories were unusually hesitant to even comment on the gap between Murphy's views and the policies of his department.