Until January 1, 2015, New Brunswick had been enforcing a restrictive abortion regulation for over 20 years, even though it was unconstitutional and created hardship for women and trans* people. The regulation required a patient to obtain written approval from two doctors who had to certify that the abortion was “medically necessary” before being allowed a funded abortion at a hospital.
It took the shocking closure of the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, the province’s only abortion clinic, to finally spark change. Between the clinic’s April announcement and its July closure, a vibrant new reproductive rights movement sprung to life in New Brunswick. Its young activists campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness, and lobbied the government to repeal the regulation.
N.B. provincial government publishes new abortion regulations – Global News
Right now, both hospitals that provide abortions in the province are managed by Vitalité Health Network: the Dr. Georges L Dumont Regional Hospital in Moncton and the Bathurst Chaleur Regional Hospital.
Spokesperson Luc Foulem said there is no plan to add to that number but what has changed is the way people can access the abortion clinics.
“Her first point of contact can be directly with our family planning clinics instead of going through a process of going through a family physician,” he said.
Foulem said the whole process from initial contact to having the procedure takes between two and three weeks.
He said it is premature for Vitalité to look at expanding the availability of the procedure.
“We don’t know at this point in time what our colleagues at Horizon Health Network will be doing, so there are a few too many variables at this point for us to justify making some infrastructure changes,” he said.
Media Roundup: Abortion Access
Fragile victories for abortion access in the South – MSNBC
Anti-Abortion Leader Admits Clinic Restrictions Are Not About Safety – Huffington Post
Missouri Republicans fight to pass one of the most draconian abortion laws in the country – Salon
Ethiopia’s game-changing abortion law – IRIN Africa
A pregnant, suicidal rape victim fought Ireland’s new abortion law. The law won – The Guardian
The Dawn of the Post-Clinic Abortion– The New York Times
Supreme Court to hear plea seeking extension of legal limit for abortion – India Today
France Dumps Abortion Restrictions, Will Cover the Cost of All First Trimester Abortions – Ms Magazine
Spanish women protest against new laws limiting the availability of abortions – The Independent
Travel and Access to Abortion
Excellent paper on the topic of access in the Maritimes and creating barriers to access by forcing pregnant people to travel for abortion care:
On July 18th, the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton performed its last abortion. Without government funding, and the generous support of Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the clinic is no longer sustainable financially. The closure of this clinic is a reminder that although abortion is legal in Canada, there are still significant disparities in timely access to abortion services. The closure of the clinic is part of a long history of women’s access to abortion services at the local level before and after the legalization of abortion in 1969 and the decriminalization of abortion in 1988. The lack of access at the local level has a major impact on obtaining an abortion in much wider contexts because women have tended to travel to other jurisdictions for pregnancy termination. Travel is one of the main barriers to access to abortion. Yet travel is often the only way women can access abortion services.
Via Activehistory.ca, article by Nancy Janovicek, Christabelle Sethna, Beth Palmer, and Katrina Ackerman
Thank You / Current Access Info
An open letter from Reproductive Justice NB to our supporters:
The words “thank you” do not feel big enough to express the gratitude we’ve felt over the last month as we surpassed our original fundraising goal of $100,000 in the #SaveTheClinic campaign. Our work would not be possible without your generosity and continued support!
The donation site will remain up and running past the July 31st deadline as we are still looking to finance equipment for the clinic and fund our advocacy work. Unequal access to reproductive services is a problem 20 years in the making in this province and any additional support goes a long way to help us eradicate these archaic healthcare practices… Read more
How to Access Abortion in New Brunswick / Services d’avortement à l’heure actuelle
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,
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!
THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT