Protests and crowdfunding can’t stop NB Morgentaler clinic from performing permanent abortions


Restrictions on women’s abortion rights in New Brunswick deserve nationwide attention, Federal Greens leader Elizabeth May said outside New Brunswick legislature

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FREDERICTON – The only private clinic in New Brunswick to offer abortions performed the last of the procedures on Friday as calls for the provincial government to remove the restrictions fell on deaf ears.

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Protesters marched from the Morgentaler Clinic to the provincial legislature, calling on the government to improve access to abortion, saying the regulations currently in place effectively deny women their reproductive rights.

“It’s very sad to see the clinic close and also very scary because with the closure of the clinic we are losing 60% of access to abortion in New Brunswick,” said Sorcha Beirne, who helped organize the rally.

“We are losing access to health care and we are losing some hope.

When I walk past this clinic, I feel the devil next to me

The Morgentaler Clinic closes at the end of the month, which abortion right supporters say marks a critical point in their fight to repeal regulation 84-20 of the provincial law on payment for medical services.

By law, a woman in New Brunswick who wants an abortion covered by Medicare must have two doctors certifying in writing that it is medically necessary and the procedure must be performed by a specialist in one of the two hospitals. approved. Once the clinic is closed, these two hospitals will be the only establishments in the province where abortions will be performed.

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THE CANADIAN PRESS / David Smith
THE CANADIAN PRESS / David Smith

The Morgentaler Clinic cited losses of around $ 100,000 over the past decade in its decision to close after 20 years, saying it could not afford to continue performing abortions that are not funded by the ‘State.

The clinic said it performed more than 600 abortions per year. About 400 abortions are performed each year at the two hospitals, according to the provincial health ministry.

A group called Reproductive Justice NB launched a crowdfunding effort to keep the clinic open. The group has raised more than $ 111,000, but it is not yet known whether this will allow abortions to resume at the facility as negotiations to reach a lease continue with the owners of the building.

Federal Greens Leader Elizabeth May, whose party holds a convention in Fredericton, addressed the rally outside the Legislature. May said the situation in New Brunswick deserves the country’s attention.

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“No woman who is denied access to a safe and legal abortion, anywhere in Canada, is less than a national concern,” said May.
“This means New Brunswick women do not have equal access. “

Many protesters carried hangers or signs with an “X” on a hanger and the words “Never Again”. About 150 people attended the rally, according to a commissioner from the Legislative Assembly.

THE CANADIAN PRESS / Blaise Edwards
THE CANADIAN PRESS / Blaise Edwards

No one from the Progressive Conservative provincial government attended the protest. The government has always maintained its position that there is no need for change because women will always have access to medically necessary, two-doctor-approved abortions.

Opposition member Roger Melanson tried to reassure protesters with the provincial Liberal stance that his party will revise Regulation 84-20 if it forms government after elections scheduled for September 22. “Not good enough!”

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Provincial NDP leader Dominic Cardy has promised to repeal the law altogether.

For years, the issue of access to abortion in New Brunswick has been politically thorny. Successive Liberal and Conservative provincial governments have resisted calls to change abortion access laws.

Only a few abortion opponents stood near the protesters as they marched. Andy Tuckey said he’s happy the clinic is shutting down, calling it an evil place.

“When I walk past this clinic, I can feel the devil next to me,” he said.

Simone Leibovitch, director of the clinic, said she was setting up a hotline to provide counseling to women seeking abortions. She said they will be referred to hospitals or Morgentaler clinics operating in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.

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