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.
Reproductive Justice NB sent a survey on August 22 to all parties in the upcoming NB provincial elections, asking the parties to send the surveys to all their candidates. The survey asked candidates whether they supported (1) a repeal of regulations that have been identified as barriers to abortion access and (2) the extension of reproductive healthcare in the Province. The NDP and Green Party both responded collectively “yes” to these two questions. The other parties, Progressive Conservatives, NB Liberals and the Peoples Alliance of NB, chose not to respond to the questions.
Le 20 août 2014, Justice Reproductive Nouveau-Brunswick a transmis un sondage aux cinq partis politiques enregistrés aux prochaines élections provinciales afin qu’il soit relayé aux candidates et candidats. Le sondage portait sur la justice reproductive et demandait leur appui pour: 1) abroger les règlements qui créent des obstacles entravant l’accès à l’avortement; et 2) étendre les services de santé reproductive dans la province. Le NPD et le Parti Vert y ont répondu favorablement. Les autres partis, le Parti-progressiste conservateur, le Parti Libéral et l’Alliance des gens du N.-B. n’ont pas répondu le sondage.
FREDERICTON, NB, August 28, 2014 – Reproductive Justice NB is calling on organizations and media outlets hosting leaders’ debates during the New Brunswick election to include questions about abortion access. As a leading healthcare issue facing the province, leaders must make their positions clear on how they would rectify the lack of safe, equitable and accessible reproductive health care for all New Brunswickers.
“Since the closure of the Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton just over a month ago, our group has received countless calls and emails from New Brunswickers who are, quite frankly, terrified,” said Kathleen Pye, Chair of Reproductive Justice NB (RJNB). “A doctor shortage and personal financial restrictions given the current economic climate in the Province make the current two-doctor regulation particularly dangerous. Some will be fortunate enough to have the funding to be able to travel out-of-province to have a self-referred abortion. Others will be forced into desperate measures. It is the health, well being, and safety of all New Brunswickers on the line. Legislators must answer to this crisis. Now.”
Since announcing the clinic closure in April, there has been a groundswell of provincial and national support for New Brunswick’s restrictive abortion rules to change. An RJNB-led campaign to raise $100,000 to work to secure a lease for the clinic and recruit healthcare professionals with a pro-choice mandate reached its goal in less than two weeks. And on the eve of a provincial election, voters have taken to social media to express their concerns about lack of access.
“We encourage every voter who wants reproductive justice in the form of province-wide access to abortion services to speak to every candidate who knocks on their door,” said Pye. “This is our opportunity to demand answers and action from our provincial leaders.”
The provincial leaders running for office in the New Brunswick election have all answered questions about abortion access to some degree via media interviews. The various leaders’ debates (televised or not) will provide an opportunity for leaders to be clear on their stance on this critical health care issue that must be addressed.
Via The Toronto Sun
“New Brunswick’s provincial Liberal leader is taking federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s line in warning his candidates to either support abortion rights or get out of the way.
Brian Gallant said he plans to “remove barriers” to abortion if elected.
“Any candidate that will respect that position and that will support that position can run for us,” he told reporters at a stop in Moncton after campaigning with Trudeau. “It’s not about personal preference. It’s about ensuring that we respect a woman’s right to choose and I’ve made that very clear to all 48 candidates that will be running with me in this election.”
“The impatience with Gallant among abortion-rights activists, and the opposition he has encountered from abortion opponents, is partly a result of his own careful choice of words.
Gallant has declared himself “pro-choice” and has suggested his promised review would almost certainly lead to the repeal of what’s known as the two-doctor rule.
But he has refused to promise an immediate repeal. He says a review is needed to sort out what would happen once the restrictions vanished…
…The ideal political math for Gallant on abortion would be to have some progressive-minded women hold their nose and vote Liberal in the hopes he follows through — while at the same time anti-abortion Liberals remain loyal to the party.
No one can predict yet whether he can make that equation work.”
Read the article here
Several members of Reproductive Justice New Brunswick were present for the Fredericton-area Liberal campaign launch on Saturday, August 3rd. With an ‘Abortion Access Now’ banner and ‘No vague Promises’ and ‘Show us your repeal Timeline’ posters, RJNB hoped to reinforce the importance of the Liberals clarifying their stance on improving abortion access in NB, and how they plan to “identify all barriers to a woman’s right to choose and eliminate them“. Although not indicated on the invitation or ticket, RJNB members were told only official Liberal party signs were allowed in the building. Most members remained outside, and were told that nothing in regards to reproductive heath was mentioned.
The barriers to access have been studied for as long as they’ve existed. The first steps toward ‘eliminating barriers’ to abortion are to:
-Repeal NB Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1) of the Medical Services Payment Act which requires two doctors to sign off that the procedure is “medically required” and that it must be performed in a hospital by an OB/GYN;
-Repeal Medical Services Payment Act, Section 2.01, which prohibits government funding of “entitled services furnished in a private hospital facility in the Province”.
NB Liberal leader Brian Gallant: you know #NBProchoice is heading to the polls. The Green and NDP parties have promised repeal, unequivocally. Stand behind your convictions and inform us of the decisive action you’ll take in regards to abortion access if you’re elected. No more vague promises. No more reviews. New Brunswick deserves safe, accessible, government funded abortion, NOW.