November 27, 2014
LEAF welcomes the announcement by New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant yesterday repealing one of the abortion restrictions in Regulation 84-20 of the Medical Services Payment Act as of January 1, 2015. New Brunswick’s requirement that two doctors must certify in writing that an abortion is medically required acts as an unacceptable barrier to access to abortion in a Canadian province, and we are glad to see it removed.
LEAF also welcomes the Premier’s commitment to improving access to “accurate and non-judgmental information for women seeking abortions”. In addition to these important steps forward, more change is needed to achieve reproductive justice in the province.
LEAF calls upon the government of New Brunswick to immediately repeal the other barriers to women’s equality in Regulation 84-20, including the provision that abortions will only be funded if performed in a hospital. The loss of the Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton in the summer has caused a “spike” in the number of New Brunswick women forced across the border to Maine to seek abortions, and removed an important option for women in neighbouring provinces.
LEAF is very concerned that the situation for women in Prince Edward Island is even more acute. PEI women have no access to abortion in their province. They must go to a Halifax hospital to obtain a funded procedure – their travel, accommodation and other costs are not covered. This means that low-income women are disproportionately prevented from accessing a legal health service.
Abortion has been a legal procedure in Canada since at least the 1988 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Morgentaler, yet both New Brunswick and PEI have refused to abide by the spirit of the decision; in New Brunswick, by placing significant barriers to abortion access, and in PEI, by denying women access to abortion in the province for well over two decades.
LEAF calls upon the government of PEI to immediately fund and provide access to abortion in PEI for the women of that province. As a stop-gap measure, Island women must be able to self-refer to New Brunswick hospitals and receive diagnostic tests there, eliminating local PEI referrals, blood tests, and ultrasounds, all of which are huge obstacles for too many. Both governments must also pay for clinic-based care.
Access to abortion (along with other elements of reproductive health care such as access to contraception, information and support for parenting) is critical for women’s equality rights. LEAF is adamant that PEI and New Brunswick women deserve equality and reproductive justice along with every other woman in Canada!
Kim Stanton, LEAF Legal Director
 R. v. Morgentaler,  1 SCR 30