Morgentaler Clinic closure: What impact on abortion access?
Published Friday, July 18, 2014 11:37AM EDT Last Updated Friday, July 18, 2014 12:12PM EDT
Friday marks the last day that women in New Brunswick will have access to abortions free of restrictions as the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, the only private abortion facility in the Maritimes, prepares to close its doors.
Can women still have abortions in New Brunswick?
The Morgentaler Clinic was the only facility in the province where women could get an abortion free of restrictions. Abortions are performed in two hospitals in the province, but they require that two doctors certify, in writing, that the procedure is medically necessary.
Are abortions taxpayer funded in the province?
Abortion isn't covered by medicare in the province unless it is deemed medically necessary and performed by a specialist in an approved hospital.
The Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton charged between $700 and $850 for the procedure, depending on how far along in her pregnancy the woman is.
Dr. Henry Morgentaler launched a lawsuit in 2002, aimed at forcing the New Brunswick government to pay for abortions at clinics. The lawsuit was dropped after Morgentaler's death in May 2013.
The clinic announced in April that it was closing after being in operation for nearly 20 years. The clinic's manager said it had lost approximately $100,000 in the last 10 years.
Where else can women have abortions in the Maritimes?
The closure of the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton means there's no private abortion clinics in the Maritimes.
Prince Edward Island does not provide abortions in-province, so women seeking abortions must travel out-of-province. Physician and hospital costs for the procedure are covered by the provincial health care plan, but require a doctors' referral. The request is also reviewed by the Medicare Medical Consultant.
In Nova Scotia, abortions performed in hospitals are free with a doctor's referral. Abortions cannot be performed in the province after 15 weeks and 5 days into the pregnancy.
What has the response to the closure been?
A crowd-sourcing campaign launched by Reproductive Justice New Brunswick had raised more than $112,000 by Friday morning, in an effort to lease the existing Morgentaler Clinic. The group says it's in discussions with the building's owners to enter into a lease agreement. The campaign had set a $100,000 fundraising goal and a July 31 deadline.
New Brunswick's current Conservative government, as well as its former Liberal government, have both resisted calls to repeal the restrictive abortion legislation -- Regulation 84-20 -- that critics say infringes upon women's reproductive rights.
Health Minister Hugh Flemming said in a statement that women will still have access to abortions that are medically necessary and approved by two physicians.