Open Letter for Abortion Access, Because Oppression Wears on Our Bodies

Oppression (on the basis of class, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and a whole host of other factors) is one of the most prominent underlying reasons why I see patients in the hospital. That may seem like a wildly unfounded statement to some nurses. There are nurses who would argue with me, and would say that diseases and risk factors and lifestyle choices are what bring most people into the hospital. They’re entitled to that thinking, but in my experience it is almost always marginalization and structural violence that brings people into the hospital in one way or another. Especially in New Brunswick, where most people have no money. And especially for New Brunswick women, who usually have even less money and limited access to services when compared to other areas. I meet people who are in the hospital because they have a specific disease—sure—but what led to their hospitalization is also that they don’t currently have enough money to feed, clothe, and house themselves all at the same time. Or that they have experienced gender-based violence. The list of contributing factors goes on.

A nurse researcher named Elizabeth McGibbon (2012) calls oppression “the causes of the causes” in her book Oppression: A Social Determinant of Health. I take her to mean, here, that oppression is what underwrites the causes of the health problems we see so frequently as nurses. This is not to say, of course, that we can always trace a simple trajectory from racism, sexism, cissexism, and all of the other harmful -isms to cancer and other diseases. I am saying, though, that if tracked back far enough oppression can be often be found at the root of too many issues. I am also saying that the daily assaults that so often make up oppression wear on people’s body, and while it may not be the name of the disease that makes them sick it is the cause of the cause of the cause of the cause of that disease. It’s in there somewhere, whether it be inadequate access to food that contributes to poor diabetes control or gender-based violence that factors into the development of heart disease for women. Oppression wears on the body. The daily struggle for food wears on the body if there just isn’t enough to go around—this struggle makes it harder and harder to stay well. The daily cat-calls, slut-shaming, airbrushed media portrayals, and underpayment for services wears on women’s bodies—makes it harder and harder to stay well as a woman in this province.

And so this is a plea for abortion access in New Brunswick, from a nursing student who is tired of putting band-aids on structural problems. The evidence exists that can help us understand how lack of access is rooted in oppression, and how that lack of access will lead to admissions to the hospital for people who have tried to self-abort. But this is not just a plea for those humans who will need abortions once the Morgentaler clinic closes. It is also plea for those of us who may never even end up pregnant, on whom the daily assault on our ability to decide for ourselves what to do with our bodies wears so heavily. An assault on choice wears on women’s bodies, and it just one of the many aspects of oppression that is making us sick in New Brunswick.

Yours in struggle,
Tricia Morris

A Message from the NDP

JULY 17, 2014


OTTAWA – With the Morgentaler Clinic closing tomorrow. New Democrats urge the Minister of Health to work directly with her provincial counterparts in New Brunswick to ensure that safe access to abortion services is publicly available.

“It is disturbing and deeply concerning to know that women ‎in New Brunswick have a lack of access to safe abortions,” said NDP Health critic Libby Davies (Vancouver East). “This is an issue that the federal Minister of Health must act upon immediately, to ensure that women’s reproductive rights are upheld.”

New Democrats believe that there should be no place in Canada where a woman’s health is compromised because of a failure to provide access. Pro-choice activists nationwide have come together to support local initiatives in New Brunswick to save the Morgentaler Clinic, as well as to call attention to the lack of access to abortion services across Canada.

“Women in Canada have the right to choose – wherever they live,” said Status of Women critic Niki Ashton (Churchill). “This clinic served women in New Brunswick and PEI. Now these women no longer have access to health services that other Canadians have access to. It is time to address the gender inequality that exists when it comes to health care services available in Canada.”




Rally to #SavetheClinic today, July 18th! If you are in Fredericton, your presence at the rally will help demonstrate how important the clinic is to New Brunswickers.

If you are unable to attend the rally, you can still show your support! Tweet using the #SavetheClinic and #NBProchoice hashtags and let Premier David Alward (@PremierNB) know what you think about his inaction. Demand the repeal of regulation 84-20. Tell the government of NB that we shouldn’t be doing their job for them! Take a photo of yourself holding a message of solidarity! Tweet your photos and submit them to the tumblr. If you are able, make a donation to the #SavetheClinic fund.


The rally takes place from noon to 2pm Atlantic time. If you’d like to concentrate your tweets/statuses/photos to coincide with the rally, remember to adjust for time differences!


Twitter Campaign: Week Two

The first week of our #NBProchoice twitter campaign has come and gone and we are getting ready to begin on week two today.

Hundreds of tweets were sent out to MLAs and Premier Alward. ZERO responses were sent back. ZERO. Let that sink in for a moment. These public servants openly attended an event celebrating the status quo and/or further restriction of reproductive healthcare and bodily autonomy, not to mention flat-out endorsing NB’s violation of the Canada Health Act, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and UN human rights standards.

Two months have gone by with absolutely no response from the sitting government. We send messages to them every single day through letters, emails, tweets and phone calls. We are here, we want to talk, and no one cares.

This movement cannot lose steam. We need to show that we are not going anywhere, this issue is NOT going away, it WILL be an election issue, and we WILL remember every single minute of silence.

#NBProchoice #ProchoixNB

week two



Twitter Campaign

The annual New Brunswick March For Life anti-choice rally took place on May 15th of this year, starting at the Legislative Building and continuing on down to the Women’s Care Centre which neighbours the closing Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton (see CBC article here).

So far we have counted and named twenty three New Brunswick MLAs in attendance at this rally, an alarming number to be sure, but let’s allow this to help us fuel our fight. We know what we’re up against, because they showed up in public to support the status quo.

We have been writing, emailing and calling our representatives with little to no response. Twitter is a public avenue for these MLAs to connect with their citizens. Let’s see if they continue to ignore us.

We have created a schedule that starts on Tuesday May 20th and continues each workday until we’ve run out of MLAs with active twitter accounts who were in attendance.

twitter campaign

For a schedule with active links, use this:

May 20th @billfrasermla (spoke at the rally)
May 21st @jodycarr_mla (spoke at the rally)
May 22nd @troylifford
May 23rd @brucefitchmla

May 26th @pamlynchnb
May 27th @jakestewartmla
May 28th @jackcarr_mla
May 29th @carlkillen
May 30th @ryanriordon

Don’t forget to add the premier @PremierNB to your tweet each day as well.

In order to ensure the maximum number of people see your tweets, make sure you have at least one character before directly addressing someone on twitter. You can phrase your tweet so their handle is inside your statement:

“Hey @billfrasermla, I can make my own medical decisions! #NBProchoice”.
Or you can add a period before their handle: “.@jodycarr_mla thinks his opinion should shape the course of my life #NBProchoice”

Just keep in mind that Tweets addressed to someone (“@whoever followed by your statement”) get put in your “replies” and don’t get as many views!

Let’s write messages, re-tweet each other, and keep it focused on law/politics. Every person deserves full, uncompromising autonomy over their own body. Regulation 84-20 endangers lives and infringes on our human rights.

While we want to publicly address this on twitter we think it is also important to name every MLA in attendance, and so we have done so by listing their email addresses here:

Those without Twitter:

Those on the Twitter list:

And here is the entire list in an easy to mass email form:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Jack.Carr@gnb.c,,

For a detailed history of this important issue, check out this piece by Professor Jula Hughes (UNB law), or this article by Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.

Hedy Fry: An Open Letter to the Minister of Health

Hon. Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health
Health Canada
Brooke Claxton Building, Tunney’s Pasture
Postal Locator: 0906C
Ottawa, Ontario

May 14, 2014

Dear Minister,

We write to inform you of a likely contravention of the accessibility principle ‎of the Canada Health Act (CHA) by the New Brunswick government and to request that you send a letter forthwith invoking the Dispute and Resolution process (DAR) in order to address the issue.

As you are aware, ‎the Fredericton Morgentaler clinic will be forced to close its doors at the end of July due to lack of public funding. At the same time, provincial regulation limits access to pregnancy termination to two hospitals with the required approval of two physicians.

There is already an unacceptable waiting list of as long as two weeks for some women requesting termination. With the closure of the Morgentaler clinic, this waiting list will lengthen.‎

As you are aware, there is a time line after which a termination of pregnancy is no longer‎ clinically appropriate and increases the risk to the pregnant woman. This means that many New Brunswick women may be denied access to safe, timely, legal abortion based on provincial residency.

Furthermore, many women many not have the financial means to travel to a neighbouring province in order to access a safe procedure in a timely manner. Those who can afford to do so will place a greater cost and wait times burden on neighbouring provinces.

The principle of accessibility in the Canada Health Act requires provinces to provide access to medically necessary services regardless of where they live or their ability to pay.

Moreover, access to safe timely abortion is legal in Canada.

We hope to have a speedy response to this letter, Minister. The medical needs of New Brunswick women depend on it.


Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry, P.C., M.P.
Vancouver Centre
Liberal Health Critic

Hon. Carolyn Bennett, MD, M.P.
St Paul’s Chair,
Liberal Women’s Caucus

Hon. Dominic Leblanc, P.C., M.P.
Liberal House Leader

L’hon. Rona Ambrose, C.P., députée
Ministre de la Santé
Santé Canada
Édifice Brooke Claxton Building, Pré Tunney
Indice de l’adresse : 0906C
Ottawa (Ontario)
K1A 0K9

Le 14 mai 2014

Madame la ministre,

Nous vous informons par la présente d’une atteinte probable au principe d’accessibilité de la Loi canadienne sur la santé de la part du gouvernement du Nouveau-Brunswick et vous demandons d’envoyer tout de suite à ce sujet une lettre invoquant le mécanisme de prévention et de règlement des différends.

Comme vous le savez, la clinique Morgentaler de Fredericton sera forcée de fermer ses portes à la fin de juillet faute de financement public. D’autre part, la réglementation provinciale n’autorise l’interruption de grossesse que dans deux hôpitaux moyennant l’approbation de deux médecins.

Certaines femmes doivent attendre jusqu’à deux semaines avant d’obtenir une interruption de grossesse. Après la fermeture de la clinique Morgentaler, la liste d’attente déjà inacceptable s’allongera forcément.

Comme vous le savez, passé un certain délai, l’interruption de grossesse devient cliniquement contre-indiquée et entraîne un risque accru pour la femme. Il s’ensuit qu’un grand nombre de Néo-Brunswickoises risquent de ne pas pouvoir se faire avorter légalement sans risque et dans les délais voulus d’après leur province de résidence.

Par ailleurs, beaucoup de femmes n’ont pas les moyens de se rendre dans une province voisine pour se faire opérer sans risque dans les délais voulus. Quant à celles qui en ont les moyens, elles vont augmenter les coûts et allonger la liste d’attente des provinces voisines.

Le principe d’accessibilité de la Loi canadienne sur la santé oblige les provinces à fournir aux assurés les services médicalement nécessaires sans égard à leur lieu de résidence ou à leurs moyens financiers.

En outre, il est légal au Canada de se faire avorter sans risque et dans les délais voulus.

Nous espérons recevoir bientôt votre réponse. Le bien-être des Néo-Brunswickoises en dépend.

Veuillez agréer, Madame la ministre, l’expression de nos sentiments distingués.

L’hon. Hedy Fry, C.P.
Députée de Vancouver-Centre
Porte-parole libérale en matière de santé

L’hon. Carolyn Bennett, M.D.
Députée de St. Paul’s
Présidente, Caucus des femmes libérales

L’hon. Dominic Leblanc, C.P.
Député de Beauséjour
Leader à la Chambre du Parti libéral


Communiqué : Le RFNB salue la création d’un nouveau groupe pro-choix

Pour diffusion immédiate
14 mai 2014

Création de Reproductive Justice NB :
Le RFNB salue la création d’un nouveau groupe pro-choix

MONCTON – Le Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick (RFNB) souhaite entretenir une relation de collaboration avec le nouveau groupe Reproductive Justice NB.

« Le droit des femmes de prendre ses propres décisions en matière de procréation est un des principes fondateurs du RFNB. C’est donc avec joie que nous accueillons la création du groupe Reproductive Justice NB. Nous félicitions les personnes impliquées et souhaitons longue vie au nouveau groupe! », explique Sylvie Morin, présidente du RFNB.

L’objectif global de ce nouveau groupe rejoint celui du RFNB en ce qui à trait au droit à l’avortement, soit de travailler pour une plus grande accessibilité pour les femmes du Nouveau-Brunswick. À cause de l’annonce de la fermeture de la clinique Morgentaler de Fredericton, les femmes du Nouveau-Brunswick se trouvent dans une situation encore plus précaire en ce qui a trait à l’accès à l’avortement dans la province. Seulement 2 hôpitaux dans la province offrent le service, il nécessite l’approbation de 2 médecins et doit être offert par un spécialiste.

« Nous continuons à faire appel au gouvernement et aux chefs des partis politiques afin d’obtenir l’abrogation du règlement 84-20 qui limite l’accès à l’avortement dans la province. Il est encourageant de voir qu’un groupe de plus se mobilise autour de cet enjeu et nous souhaitons entretenir une relation de collaboration avec eux », explique Madeleine Arseneau, porte-parole en matière de droits reproductifs du RFNB.


Pour plus d’information ou une demande d’entrevue
Madeleine Arseneau, porte-parole en matière de droits reproductifs
Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick
(506) 233-0311


Twitter Bomb!

Help make our voices viral! Below are ready-made tweets to help us spread the word. We encourage you to send these several times a day in order to show your support for #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB!

We’ll be updating these frequently so please check back as often as you can.

Thank you for the solidarity!

Justin Trudeau (Head Federal Lib Party):

.@justintrudeau Your father spoke for abortion access in 1969. #NB needs you to speak up now #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

.@justintrudeau in 2015 we don’t need a status quo PM. Stand up for #NB reproductive rights #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

.@justintrudeau a strong fed. government ensures fed. laws are respected in every province #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

Brian Gallant (Head NB Lib Party):

.@BrianGallantNB and @JustinTrudeau must work together in order to secure #NB human rights http:// #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

.@BrianGallantNB we have the law, we need the access. Strike down Regulation 84-20 in 2014 #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

Kellie Leitch (Min. Status of Women):

.@KellieLeitch a strong fed. government ensures fed. laws are respected in every province #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

.@KellieLeitch we need a voice in Ottawa because @PremierNB isn’t listening #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

Peter MacKay (Min of Justice):

.@MinPeterMacKay: @PremierNB is not following the law. We demand reproductive justice in #NB #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

.@MinPeterMacKay: a strong fed. government ensures fed. laws are respected in every province #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

Rona Ambrose (Min of Health):

.@MinRonaAmbrose abortion access improves health of #NB. We need fed. support #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

.@MinRonaAmbrose #NB and #PEI are heart of confederation. Why deny our reproductive rights? #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

Ted Flemming (NB Min Health and Attorney General):

.@tedflemming abortion access improves health of #NB. We demand a health province #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

.@tedflemming we have the law, we need the access. Support our reproductive rights #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

.@tedflemming this isn’t an issue that has come&gone, we will not back down #NBprochoice/#ProchoixNB

David Alward (Premier NB):

.@PremierNB #NB can only thrive when all its citizens are healthy. Abortion ensures health #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

.@PremierNB Don’t make #NB a national embarrassment. Uphold the law. Ensure abortion access. #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB

NBProchoice/ProchoixNB focused tweets:

I make all decisions regarding my pregnancy.

I have the right to an abortion without facing intimidation and harassment. #NBProchoice/#ProchoixNB


Niki Ashton: In Solidarity with the New Brunswick Pro Choice National Day of Action

April 26th, 2014 – 7:37pm

Today I shared this message with the rallies happening across the country in solidarity with New Brunswick Pro-Choice advocates.

On behalf of my proudly pro-choice caucus members, I want to thank you for being on the Hill today in solidarity with the women of New Brunswick, the women of Prince Edward Island and the women all across this country who cannot access their legal right to choose.

Merci pour votre lutte et pour votre solidarité avec les femmes du Nouveau Brunswick, de l’ile du Prince Édouard et de partout au pays.

Today we are clear that the right to choose means that abortion services must be accessible for all Canadian women, regardless of income, region, or province.

Prime Minister Harper has told us that he won’t reopen the issue of abortion. But we know from the US that the way these Conservatives choose to erode abortion rights is to deny women fair access.

The Harper Government’s attack on choice has been long standing. They have attacked Planned Parenthood, cut funding to sexual health clinics and services, and implemented a vehemently anti-choice agenda at the international level. Here in Parliament, a Conservative backbencher puts forward his anti-choice agenda every few weeks. And despite his pronouncements, this Prime Minister has gone as far as appointing an anti-choice Minister of Status of Women who is now the Minister of Health.

But Canadian women and men are clear. The right to choose is a woman’s right. And women’s rights are human rights.

And YOU have been clear – we are not prepared to roll the clock back on Canadian women. Because of your pressure, together, we have stopped anti-choice efforts in Parliament time and time again.

But we must continue to fight back. Minister Ambrose and her Government are all too happy to sit by while regressive governments in New Brunswick and PEI deny women their right to abortion services.

Today, I am asking you to help us bring this fight to the Federal Government. It is the duty of Minister Ambrose, the Minister of Health to intervene immediately to ensure that the Canada Health Act is enforced in the province of New Brunswick and the Province of PEI.

Ainsi, nous demandons à la ministre de la Santé d’intervenir directement en appliquant la Loi canadienne sur la santé et en collaborant avec les provinces afin de faire en sorte que toutes les Canadiennes aient accès à des services d’avortement.

Exigeons que le gouvernement fédéral garantisse un accès sûr aux services d’avortement pour les femmes de partout au pays. Envoyons des letter, des tweet à la Ministre. Signez la petition qui se partage sur la colline aujourd’hui.

Let’s let the Minister of Health know that we demand immediate Federal action. Send her letters. Send her tweets. And sign the petition that’s being shared on the Hill today.

We will not stop. And we cannot stop until it is clear that all Canadian women, no matter who they are or where they live have access to their rights, including their right to choose.

Thank you. Merci.

In solidarity,

Niki Ashton
NDP MP for Churchill
Critic for the Status of Women