Access to Abortion Fundamental Right for Women’s Health

Canadian university professors call on the Province of New Brunswick to immediately repeal Regulation 84-20.

Premier David Alward

Minister of Health Hugh J. Flemming

22 April 2014

HSBC Place
P. O. Box 5100
Fredericton, NB E3B 5G8 Canada

Dear Premier Alward and Minister Flemming,

Access to abortion is fundamental to women’s right to health and to health care. The opportunity for women and girls to terminate an unintended or unsustainable pregnancy through unimpeded access to competent abortion services, without the imposition of barriers, is a key component of that care. In Morgentaler (1988) the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that this right is protected by sections 2 (freedom of conscience) and 7 (protection of life, liberty and security) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As well, the control of a woman’s personal reproductive choices and obligations is fundamental to the guarantee of equality protected by section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Dobson 1999).

Despite women’s clear and constitutionally protected entitlement to accessible reproductive health care services, the Province of New Brunswick has shamefully and persistently interfered with women’s health by imposing unconstitutional barriers to accessing pregnancy termination in the Province. New Brunswick law requires that women in the province obtain permission of two doctors who must determine that the procedure is medically required, and allows provincially funded abortions to be performed in hospitals only (Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1), Medical Services Payment Act).  In so doing, New Brunswick deliberately recreated virtually the same barriers to women’s health and safety that were held to be unconstitutional in Morgentaler.

Henry-Morgentaler_blogue-590x267Since 1994 the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton N.B. has offered abortion services to the women of the Province and to women from across the Maritimes, both those who are able to cover the costs of their own termination procedures and, most generously to women and girls who do not have the personal financial resources to do so. For 20 years, the clinic has performed at least half of the abortions done in the Province. Now the Morgentaler Clinic has announced that it will close its doors as it can no longer operate at a financial loss in the absence of provincial financial support for the essential health care services it offers to the women of New Brunswick. This closure leaves women of the Province with seriously limited hospital based services subject to extreme and unconstitutional requirements that they cannot meet. Nor do the hospitals of New Brunswick have the capacity to meet the need previously served by the Morgentaler Clinic.

This is an unacceptable situation which places the lives of the women and girls of New Brunswick at serious risk. It is an egregious violation of their protected rights to fundamental healthcare, a right enjoyed by all Canadians. It must be remedied.

For these reasons, we call on the Province of New Brunswick immediately to repeal Regulation 84-20. We also ask that the Province immediately provide full provincial funding to all women of New Brunswick who choose to terminate their pregnancies in the safety and security of the specialized and supportive services of the Morgentaler Clinic in accordance with the requirements of women’s health and of their Charter protected rights to freedom of conscience, liberty, security of the person and equality.

Yours truly,

Sanda Rodgers, University of Ottawa
Sheila McIntyre, University of Ottawa
Martha Jackman, University of Ottawa
Patricia Peppin, Queen’s University
Hester Lessard, University of Victoria
Gemma Smyth, University of Windsor
Vanessa MacDonnell, University of Ottawa
Isabel Grant, University of British Columbia
Catherine Dauvergne, University of British Columbia
Shannon K. O’Byrne, University of Alberta
Lise Gotell, University of Alberta
Colleen Sheppard, McGill University
Claire Young, University of British Columbia
Amy Salyzyn, University of Ottawa
Mona Paré, University of Ottawa
Melanie Randall, Western University
Gillian Calder, University of Victoria
Beverley Baines, Queen’s University
Carys Craig, York University
Kim Brooks, Dalhousie University
Lori G. Beaman, University of Ottawa
Dawn Moore, Carleton University
Lorna A. Turnbull, University of Manitoba
Lucie Lamarche, L’Université du Québec à Montréal
Jane Bailey, University of Ottawa
Deborah Curran, University of Victoria
Jamie Liew, University of Ottawa
Shelley A.M. Gavigan, York University
Vanessa Gruben, University of Ottawa
Rebecca J. Cook, University of Toronto
Abby Lippman, McGill University
Diana Majury, Carleton University
Audrey Macklin, University of Toronto
Constance MacIntosh, Dalhousie University
Carissima Mathen, University of Ottawa
Natasha Bakht, University of Ottawa
Sheryl N. Hamilton, Carleton University
Freya Kodar, University of Victoria
Lisa Philipps, York University
Jennifer L. Schulz, University of Manitoba
Alana Klein, McGill University
Françoise Baylis, Dalhousie University
Debra Parkes, University of Manitoba
Penelope Simons, University of Ottawa
Wanda Wiegers, University of Saskatchewan
Amanda Glasbeek, York University
Rebecca Johnson, University of Victoria
Vrinda Narain, McGill University
Gayle MacDonald, St. Thomas University
Jula Hughes, University of New Brunswick
Joanna Erdman, Dalhousie University
Jocelyn Downie, Dalhousie University
Sonia Lawrence, York University
Jennie Abell, University of Ottawa
Suzanne Bouclin, University of Ottawa
Mary Jane Mossman, York University
Susan B. Boyd, University of British Columbia
Denise Reaume, University of Toronto
Kathleen Lahey, Queen’s University
Rakhi Ruparelia, University of Ottawa
Roxanne Mykitiuk. York University
Elizabeth Sheehy, University of Ottawa
Kim Pate, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
Daphne Gilbert, University of Ottawa
Jennifer Koshan, University of Calgary
Sarah Templeton, University of Calgary
Angela Cameron, University of Ottawa
Ronalda Murphy, York University
Colleen M. Flood, University of Toronto
Janet Mosher, York University
Melissa Haussman, Carleton University
Shoshana Magnet, University of Ottawa
Corrie Scott, University of Ottawa
Jena McGill, University of Ottawa
Adelle Blackett, McGill University
Michael R. Hadskis, Dalhousie University
Wayne Sumner, University of Toronto
Teresa Scassa, University of Ottawa
Faye Woodman, Dalhousie University
Doris Buss, Carleton University
Elaine Craig, Dalhousie University
Richard Devlin, Dalhousie University
Joan M. Gilmour, York University
Karen Busby, University of Manitoba
Denise Spitzer, University of Ottawa
Michael Orsini, University of Ottawa
Carolyn McLeod, University of Western Ontario
Jennifer Bond, University of Ottawa
Rosemary Cairns Way, University of Ottawa
Elaine Gibson, Dalhousie University
Lucinda Vandervort, University of Saskatchewan
Wanda Wiegers, University of Saskatchewan
Emma Cunliffe, University of British Columbia

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