New Brunswick Government Should Repeal Abortion Restrictions
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
202.667.5881; 202.595.4395 (after hours/cell)
Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF):
Yesterday, Brian Gallant and the Liberal Party won the majority government in New Brunswick. Throughout the campaign Gallant has declared himself “pro-choice” and has promised to review the New Brunswick abortion restrictions. Now that he has won, we urge Premiere Gallant to repeal the province’s regulation 84-20 of the Medical Services Payment Act.
Regulation 84-20 requires women to seek approval from two doctors and obtain an abortion from an obstetrician-gynecologist in a hospital in order to receive public funding. In no other province are women subjected to such medically unnecessary and unfair policies. Across Canada, provinces and territories allow family doctors as well as obstetricians-gynecologists to provide funded abortion care. Additionally, abortion care is safely provided by outpatient clinics as well as hospitals.
And, nowhere else in Canada is there a requirement that two doctors must approve and agree that an abortion is medically necessary to be eligible for coverage through a medical services payment plan. This requirement is in direct violation of the 1988 Supreme Court ruling in R v. Morgentaler, which eliminated the requirement for approval of abortions and ensured women, not a committee of doctors, had the freedom to make the decision to terminate a pregnancy. There is no justification for New Brunswick to stand alone in continuing to subject women to this unjustified, unconstitutional restriction.
The current system in New Brunswick is completely inadequate and unacceptable. For the last 20 years, about half of the women who needed abortion care have paid out of pocket at the Morgentaler abortion clinic in Fredericton. However, this clinic closed in July, leaving women with fewer options and forcing them to delay their care as hospitals often have long waiting times.
Premiere Gallant must work with the community to develop a coordinated plan to make sure women’s health care needs are fully addressed by the province. Barriers to abortion access do not reduce the number of abortions, but rather force women to jeopardize their lives and health in order to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The government in New Brunswick has an obligation to provide care for women in the province and it is long overdue that the provincial government fulfills this duty. Women should not be subject to pre-Morgentaler era policies that threaten their lives and health.
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, which promotes health and justice for women. Our members include private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for more than half the women who choose abortion in the U.S. and Canada each year. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City and private clinics in Colombia.