A New Brunswick judge heard arguments Wednesday to determine if NAF Member Dr. Henry Morgentaler has standing to bring his latest court challenge against the government. Dr. Morgentaler is suing the New Brunswick government for its refusal to fund abortions at his clinic. According to Canadian law, an individual must have standing in order to bring a case forward. New Brunswick prosecutors have challenged Dr. Morgentaler’s standing due to the fact that he is not a woman.
In Canada, access to health services is guaranteed by the Canada Health Act. Abortion is funded under provincial and territorial health plans, and coverage varies regionally. In New Brunswick, in order to have a publicly funded abortion, a woman has to have approval from two doctors and obtain abortion care in a hospital. Only two hospitals in the province offer abortion care, which is not sufficient to meet the needs of women. Therefore, more than half the women who need abortion care in New Brunswick, get their care at the Morgentaler Clinic. The government’s refusal to fund abortions provided in a clinic setting is in direct violation of the 1988 Supreme Court decision, which decriminalized abortion in Canada.
“The women of New Brunswick are entitled to medically safe abortions that are covered by medicare,” Dr. Morgentaler wrote last year. “The government has not only refused to cover abortions at the Morgentaler Clinic, it has not taken the appropriate action to advise the medical profession, nor New Brunswick women seeking abortion services, where this essential service will be available.”