New Brunswick

NDP calls on government to address access to abortion issue

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy is calling on the health minister to explain how the provincial government will provide access to abortion services once the Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton closes.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy says health minister can't 'hide behind' withdrawn Morgentaler lawsuit

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy is calling on the health minister to explain how the provincial government will provide access to abortion services once the Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton closes.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy wants to hear from the health minister on abortions now that the Morgentaler lawsuit has been dropped.
Health Minister Ted Flemming has previously declined to comment on the situation, citing the lawsuit filed against the province by the estate of Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

But that lawsuit was officially withdrawn on Thursday.

"I hope the minister, now that the minister has been deprived of his hedge to hide behind with the delay over the lawsuit being dropped, actually comes out and gives a clear statement about how New Brunswick intends to uphold the Supreme Court ruling and the decision of Parliament from many decades ago," Cardy told CBC News.

In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Criminal Code section on abortion violated a woman’s right to security of the person.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said in an emailed statement on Friday that "access to this medical service will still be available in our province if the clinic closes."

"Women will continue to have access to medically-necessary abortions in the province with the approval of two physicians."

The Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton is scheduled to close at the end of July following a 20-year fight with the New Brunswick government over funding.
The Morgentaler clinic, the only private abortion facility in New Brunswick, is scheduled to close at the end of July, following a 20-year fight with the provincial government over funding.

New Brunswick is the only province in Canada with a private abortion clinic that isn't funded by medicare.

The current fee for the procedure is $700 before 14 weeks of pregnancy, and $850 between 14 and 16 weeks.

The province pays for abortions at two hospitals, but only if a woman gets approval from two doctors who certify the procedure is “medically necessary.”

Earlier this week, the new government advisory agency on women's issues, the Voices of New Brunswick Women, called on the province to immediately repeal the regulation it says places barriers on access to women.

“We are concerned that with fewer options, some women might harm themselves by choosing dangerous means to end a pregnancy,” said Phylomène Zangio, co-chair of the Forum, stated in a release.

“For this reason, it is urgent that the province change its policy and take the necessary measures to ensure that abortion services are made available to women everywhere in the province.”

An online petition to pressure the province to fund services at the Morgentaler clinic has gotten more than 13,000 signatures since the clinic announced in April its plans to close.