In 1994, the province banned abortions in clinics outside of hospitals. Federal rulings changed that in 1995, but people needing the procedure were forced to pay out of pocket. Since then, the province’s Morgentaler Clinic saved many from unwanted pregnancies. But following its closure in July, the government’s restrictions on abortion are too tight to accommodate people’s needs. Newly sworn-in premier Brian Gallant has pledged to remove barriers to abortion in the province, but has not yet come through with anything in the way of solid action.
Jaden Fitzherbert is with Reproductive Justice New Brunswick, an advocacy group created after the news broke that the clinic was going to close. She says at least one woman that she knows of has taken four misoprostol to induce a miscarriage.
A leaked business plan for a twice-monthly clinic prepared by Health PEI shows the province could have saved $37,000 a year providing abortions on the Island, rather than paying for them to be performed at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Science Centre in Halifax.
In addition, women using the service would also save tens of thousands of dollars.
The American providers say they are happy to fill the gap in services and will even provide financial assistance for any New Brunswick women who can’t afford the $500 fee, either by dipping into their national network funding or through local donations.
But they are urging premier-designate Brian Gallant to ensure access to abortion services in New Brunswick.
“Abortion is part of a woman’s reproductive rights,” said Kate Gawler, director of abortion services at the Maine Family Planning clinic in Augusta.
“Certainly it’s an extra hardship to drive the four-and-a-half hours or five hours,” she said of the round trip.
“The passport issue is another barrier.”
The Maine Family Planning clinic used to get the occasional phone call from Canada, but now it’s routinely getting about one or two calls a week from New Brunswick women, said Gawler.
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