New Brunswick faces lawsuit over abortion funding
Seven Moncton-based women’s rights activists are preparing to take New Brunswick to the Supreme Court to force it to pay for all abortions. At present, it covers only those deemed “medically necessary” by two specialists, and those performed in a hospital by a gynecologist-obstetrician.
Only two ob-gyns in the province commit abortions. The group claims to include doctors who have worked with women who required an abortion, and maintains the procedure can be safely performed by any general physician.
“But while there are general practitioners willing to provide the service, women have to go to either the Morgentaler Clinic or another province,” says the group’s spokeswoman, Michèle Caron.
A law professor at Université de Moncton, Caron says, “Based on the criteria established by the Supreme Court of Canada, New Brunswick’s situation is unconstitutional.” She maintains that the costs involved limit women’s access to abortions, so the province is contravening the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Section 7 on right to life, liberty, and security of the person).
The group has a Jan. 31 meeting with Health Minister Mike Murphy to discuss the province’s Medical Services Payment Act. If he doesn’t “correct this unconstitutional regulation,” they intend to take legal action.
Henry Morgentaler’s long-delayed but still ongoing lawsuit, addresses the same issue.
Murphy has made clear he does not intend to change the province’s policy, and federal Health Minister Tony Clement has stated the federal government will not pursue this long-running dispute.
The New Brunswick Right to Life Association reacted strongly to Caron’s announcement. “These activists present themselves as legitimate health care advocates, but in reality, they are calling for abortion on demand,” said executive director Peter Ryan.
He described their initiative as “pro-abortion extremism … based on a combination of blindness and jaded coldheartedness.”
They are ‘blind to the adverse impact of abortion on women’s health. A wealth of new medical data documenting the health problems that abortion poses for women has led British doctors to call for tighter guidelines,” he said.
“Everyone knows that what grows in a mother’s womb is a baby, not a frog. This group’s indifference to human life speaks volumes about their jaded coldheartedness toward unborn children.
“The province’s guidelines represent a reasonable effort to establish medical necessity before an abortion is performed. We encourage Minister Murphy to stand firm.”
A few months ago, Moncton’s Times & Transcript reported that for the first time, more New Brunswickers died than were born (1,967 compared to 1,686).
“With N.B. deaths outnumbering births, and abortion taking the equivalent of two schoolfuls of our children a year, the future has arrived,” Ryan says on the RTL website.
Ryan also noted that if it were not for abortions, Canada’s birthrate would still be “basically at replacement level.” He advocates changes to support pregnant mothers and encourage childbirth, rather than abortion.
He is urging:
• Do not fund private clinics
• Restrict abortion funding at public hospitals
• Fund pregnancy support programs. The province’s 10 private programs could do vastly more with public funding.
• Place greater emphasis on adoption. Long lists of couples are waiting to adopt; there are significant institutional barriers to adoption.
• Educate children about abortion. The more young people understand the facts, the less they choose it.
• Enact legislative measures that have reduced abortion rates elsewhere.