Reproductive justice is one step closer for the people of New Brunswick. Today Premier Brian Gallant repealed Regulation 84-20, which required that women seeking abortions get two doctors to certify that it is "medically necessary" and that the procedure be done by a specialist in a hospital. The change will be effective Jan 1, 2015.
Disappointingly the province still falls short in providing adequate access to abortion, by continuing to require the abortions be performed in hospitals rather than clinics. “In failing to apply reproductive health best practices by refusing to fund services outside of hospitals, New Brunswick continues to be in violation of the Canada Health Act. In addition, clinics are the most fiscally responsible model for a province with limited resources like New Brunswick” says Jessi Taylor, spokesperson for Reproductive Justice New Brunswick. In Ontario about 6,000 abortions a year are performed in doctor’s offices.
RJNB along with other activists in the province and across Canada were critical in keeping pressure on the new government of Gallant to drop the regulation. There were emergency rallies and a reproductive justice day of action across the country in the lead up to the election, and since then RJNB was running a “days of inaction” countdown on social media--tracking the number of days since Gallant took office and had not acted for improved abortion access.
Regulation 84-20 arose out of a backlash to the 1988 Morgentaler decision. For over 20 years the province refused to pay for abortions at the Morgentaler Fredericton clinic, despite being mandated to do so by the Canada Health Act. The backlog of nonpayment put the clinic out of business in July of this year. So far RJNB has crowdfunded over $131,000 to re-open the Fredericton clinic as a women’s health centre. Over the past four months, with Regulation 84-20 still in place, women in New Brunswick seeking abortions have been forced to travel to a clinic in Bangor, Maine.