In New Brunswick, the hard-won struggle for women’s choice in the matter of reproduction is sliding. The government there has recriminalized abortion through the back door by using the Medical Services Payment Act to restrict funding. Which province is next?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 20, 2006Access to abortion in the province has become critically limited, according to a group of women concerned with the issue, including the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and the National Abortion Federation. "For the last couple of weeks, referrals for abortions in the province have not been possible. No referrals are accepted until mid January by the two physicians who provide the service, and the provincial government is not providing alternate arrangements," said Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, Chairperson of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. " There have been several cases of appointments cancelled. These women are not then referred to any other service. Women are not being referred to hospitals outside the province. New Brunswick does not have reciprocal billing arrangements. Those who can pay make their way to the Morgentaler clinic. That clinic is struggling to keep up with a 25% increase in procedures." "Last week I had yet another patient turned away," said Dr. JoAnn Majerovich of Fredericton. "She actually was given an appointment to have the procedure done and then the hospital cancelled on her. The government is adding psychological insult to injury by creating a climate of fear and shame around a legal procedure. The government of New Brunswick has recriminalized abortion through the back door by using the Medical Services Payment Act to restrict funding through situations it can control, like hospitals, ultimately limiting access to abortion. In doing so New Brunswick is discriminating against women and especially those who are the most vulnerable." According to Ginette Petitipas-Taylor, "Access to abortion should not depend on the schedules of two physicians. It must be a service provided by the public health system. The government must create access points for women who have no family doctor, who have an anti-choice doctor or who are faced with impossible waiting times for a hospital abortion. As a nurse has written to us, Requiring written consent, especially when so many people do not have a family physician, restricts access for the most vulnerable, the young and the isolated - the very same women who are the least able to cope with an unintended pregnancy and an unplanned child. The written approval of two doctors should not be required to have the procedure and general practitioners should be allowed to perform abortions in the public system." "New Brunswick does little to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and then we make abortion only available to a few. The Advisory Council promotes a planned pregnancy initiative." For information, contact: Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, Chairperson, NB ACSW, 1-800-332-3087. Judy Burwell, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, 506 490-9049. Dr. JoAnn Majerovich, 453-4837; 455-8806. Dawn Fowler, National Abortion Federation, (250) 598-1858.