On July 18 the Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton, New Brunswick closed after 20 years. In contravention to the Canada Health Act, New Brunswick has refused to pay for women’s treatment at the clinic under regulation 84-20, the Medical Payment Services Act.
This legislation was imposed after the 1988 Morgentaler Decision in a backlash to limit women’s access to abortion. It limits payment for abortions to only those that are done in a hospital by an OBGYN, determined to be “medically necessary,” and approved by two doctors.
Dr. Morgentaler had personally financed the Fredericton clinic as he fought the provincial resrictions in court. After his death the clinic could no longer afford to stay open.
In the region access to abortion is limited. There are no abortions in PEI as the hospital administration has repeatedly refused physicians ready to offer proceedure access to work in the hospital and until 2011 it was not broadly known that the province would pay for women to have abortions at the hospital in Halifax NS. As a result of this and lengthy hospital wait times, the majority of women from PEI travelled to the Fredericton clinic.
Reproductive Justice New Brunswick responded to the impending clinic closure with a crowdfunding campaign to lease the building that was the Morgentaler clinic. To date the grass roots campaign has raised $128k, quickly exceeding the original $100K goal.
With a new goal of $200K they hope to open a women’s health centre offering a broad range of health services available six days a week, and significantly expand operations from the one day per week that the Morgentaler clinic was open.
Day of action
The Canada-wide day of action on Saturday September 20 has been called to bring attention to the inequity of access across the country and particularly in New Brunswick prior to the provincial election on Monday Sept 22. So far the liberal candidate for premier, Brian Gallant, has only promised a “review” of the policy.
In Toronto join the day of action at Lake Devo, Ryerson Univ, 1pm with march and “scramble for access.” Demand “Reproductive Justice: Equal Access Now!