Abortion Access New Brunswick: Repeal Restrictions in 84 20!
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The government of New Brunswick is philosophically and politically opposed to barrier-free provision of abortion-related reproductive health and rights. Prior to its decriminalization more than 30 years ago, New Brunswick enacted regulations to ban community-based clinics, like Clinic 554, from providing medicare-funded abortions. Each successive government has maintained some version of this restriction ever since. The current government refuses to even meet with abortion providers to discuss it.
1. Despite direct instruction to remove regulations limiting abortion access, from repeated Federal Health Ministers, in order for NB to comply with the Canada Health Act, and ensure a patient’s right to accessibility of healthcare services;
2. Despite a NB Supreme Court ruling, 15 years ago, that found such restrictions were unconstitutional;
3. Despite the legal precedent set in provinces across the country, that insured services must be free to a patient wherever they are offered;
4. And, most distressingly, despite women and transgender patients bearing the disproportionate burden of this restriction.
The NB government chooses willfully to look the other way, the effect of which, purposefully produces institutional barriers that ensure patients are under-served based on their gender.
Specifically, Schedule 2, of Regulation 84-20, under the Medical Services Payment Act, limits medicare funding for abortion to hospital settings. There are 19 cities in NB with hospitals but only 2 who provide abortions. Both limit their services to the first trimester. Clinic 554 is the only second trimester provider in the Province. As a result, patients may not be able to access a hospital for their abortion due to a lack of regional provision, and barriers to travel during our long snow-covered winters, and our new devastation of annual spring flooding. If they do, they may be turned away if they are further along in their pregnancies than the hospital’s arbitrary limits allow. There is no medical reason to require hospital abortions be preferred over community-based ones. In fact, patients have a higher risk of infection, loss of confidentiality, and experiencing stigma or harassment at hospital sites.
For uninsured patients, such as migrant workers and undocumented Canadians, Clinic 554 is their clinic. For patients with mental health or financial issues that limit travel, such as working class or self-employed people, single parents, patients fleeing intimate partner violence, those with addictions, and those who are unable to get away for an out-of-region appointment, they need Clinic 554. Clinic 554 consistently waived the fees for patients who can’t pay, and are commitment to barrier-free reproductive health, but are not sustainable under the current government restrictions.
The repeal Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1) of the Medical Services Payment Act, where abortion is "deemed not to be an entitled services unless the abortion is performed in a hospital facility" would grant people in New Brunswick their right to a safe, accessible and timely abortion.
Abortion Access New Brunswick: Repeal Regulation in 84 20
Schedule 2, of Regulation 84-20, under NB’s Medical Services Payment Act, limits Medicare funding for abortions to hospital settings. Although this legislation was placed in the context of regulating physicians, its purpose has been to prohibit regionally accessible community-based clinics. A regulation whose primary purpose is to limit abortions except in certain circumstances is unacceptable.
In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada found delays in abortion access create a clear risk of damage to the physical well-being, and harm to the psychological integrity, of women seeking abortions, and are thus unconstitutional. Requiring pregnant patients to travel hundreds of kilometers to access abortion, in a province besieged by poverty, snow, and recently flooding, disproportionately harms women and transgender people.
The Canada Health Act requires NB insure all medically necessary services - free of cost to the individual - in a manner that is accessible, comprehensive, universal, and publicly administrated. Yet, in the case of abortion, the Province allows differential treatment and under-inclusion of this essential health need. As such, NB is failing in its legal and moral responsibilities to its most vulnerable citizens.
I ask for:
1. The immediate removal of Schedule 2, of Regulation 84-20, under the Medical Services Payment Act, prohibiting funding of abortions outside of hospital settings;
2. The urgent development of reasonable and sufficient Facility and Physician Fee Codes, to ensure sustainable community-based abortion access in clinics regionally across NB, starting with Clinic 554 in Fredericton, and;
3. The development of sufficient “bubble zone” legislation to guarantee the safety of all who enter such facilities.
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