Federal Government Must Ensure Abortion Funding for Clinic 554

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(Note: This petition is directed to the federal government, while Clinic 554’s petition is directed to New Brunswick's government. Please sign both!)

Clinic 554 in Fredericton New Brunswick is no longer financially stable and may need to close. The province enforces a 30-year old regulation in violation of the Canada Health Act that limits funding of surgical abortions to hospitals, [1,2] forcing the clinic to pay the cost themselves or charge patients directly. Over the decades, thousands of NB women have suffered harms and endured hardship because of the province’s illegal regulation.

The clinic’s predecessor, the Morgentaler Clinic, was forced to close in 2014 because it was financially unsustainable [3] – it could no longer afford to pay costs for low-income patients. If Clinic 554 closes too, it would be a disaster for women and gender minorities in the province, as the clinic is the only one in the province that provides abortion care and LGBTQ2 care.

The petition signers call upon the government of Canada and the Minister of Health to:

  • Engage in talks or arbitration with the New Brunswick government to make them repeal the provincial law restricting abortion payment to hospitals (Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1), of the Medical Services Payment Act). [1]
  • Immediately start withholding a proportion of Health Transfer payments to New Brunswick and continue to do so as long as the regulation remains in force.
  • Speak out publicly against New Brunswick’s violation of the Canada Health Act, and publicly pledge to resolve the problem before the Oct 2019 election.

Shocking Facts:

  • New Brunswick fully funds Mifegymiso abortions (the abortion pill), but only funds surgical abortions at hospitals. This means that Clinic 554 gets reimbursed for medical abortions, but not surgical abortions. Since the clinic is actually a GP’s primary care practice offering a wide range of services, surgical abortion is the ONLY service not funded. This is hypocritical and absurd.
  • Mifegymiso abortion has a small failure rate. Each time this occurs, Clinic 554 must do a surgical procedure to complete the abortion, but because this is not covered by the province, the clinic is forced to eat the cost themselves.
  • Clinic 554 is the only centre in NB that does abortions up to 16 weeks. Doctors and hospitals in NB routinely refer patients to them. Since most patients are low income, the clinic usually covers the cost. They will not turn away patients as that would violate medical ethics and patients’ right to care. This situation is not sustainable. It is unethical and illegal for the Province to abandon these patients.
  • The clinic has hosted petitions [4,5] aimed at the provincial government, and held at least two crowdfunding campaigns [6,7] to raise money, but this cannot continue and is not sustainable. It is unconscionable that a clinic providing medically necessary services under the Canada Health Act must cover costs out of its own pocket, or charge patients directly. This is illegal under the Act, but the NB government is the lawbreaker because it gives the clinic no choice.

Petition by Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada:  www.arcc-cdac.ca  •  info@arcc-cdac.ca

Sources:

  1. Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1), of the Medical Services Payment Act.
  2. Jan 1995 letter from then-federal Health Minister Diane Marleau, instructing provinces and territories to fund medically required procedures in private clinics; and: Oct 1995 follow-up statement from Marleau, warning provinces that have not yet complied that they will face penalties.
  3. Global News, April 10, 2014: "Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton closing after operating at a loss".
  4. 2019 Change.org petition (still open) “Abortion Access New Brunswick: Repeal Restrictions in 84 20!”
  5. 2014 Change.org petition (closed) “To fund services at the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, NB.
  6. 2019 GoFundMe campaign “Clinic 554 Needs Your Help”.
  7. 2018 Fundrazr campaign “Help Gender & Reproductive Care Stay Afloat in NB”.

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