New Brunswick is, currently, the only province in Canada refusing to give funding for private abortion clinics. In order for a woman to terminate her pregnancy safely, she has to spend $700-$850 of her own money, which she may not be able to afford. The Morgantaler clinic in Fredericton will not turn any woman away, however, and will pay what the woman cannot not to ensure she remains safe and healthy.
This is a band-aid solution, however, for New Brunswick's bizarre "two doctor" policy. This policy states that a woman may only have a funded abortion in New Brunswick if it's "medically necessary"--a vague term that could be easily abused by doctors who are anti-abortion. The woman must be examined by two doctors and be given approval. It is invasive and has the possibility to be discriminatory and judgmental. This is a segment of General Regulation 84-20.
Now, with its private funding all but sapped dry, the Morgantaler clinic in Fredericton has announced that its doors will be closing in July. This is a heavy blow to women's rights in New Brunswick, but it's important to mention that New Brunswickers aren't the only ones suffering for this. Prince Edward Island has no current access to safe abortions, and many women would leave the province to have the procedure done in New Brunswick. Now, they will have to travel to Halifax, and travelling can quickly become expensive. In addition, it is a woman's right to be able to access services pertaining to her own well being, and this right is going to be wholly denied in New Brunswick and PEI starting in July.
Abortions outside of the "two doctor" policy will continue to happen--there is no question. Before abortions were legal, women died from not having safe access. If you do not support legal abortions, then you are, by default, supporting unsafe amateur abortions. By closing an abortion clinic, the province is obliterating the right of a woman to have her pregnancy ended safely in an area that is, importantly, free of judgment and malicious intent, and free of assumptions made based on popularised abortion myths--some of the most popular being "women use abortions as birth control" and that they make the decision for "frivolous" reasons.
Tax dollars are already being spent on those few approved "medically necessary" cases, so anti-abortionists in New Brunswick are already paying for a restricted amount of abortions with their tax dollars. How can we justify using such a vague term as "medically necessary" when there are so many other factors that come into play when a woman chooses to have an abortion? "Medically necessary", being undefined, is completely removing the potential necessity of abortions as a result of a whole rainbow of other problems. Adding to this, an appointment with a doctor can be extremely difficult to obtain, let alone appointments with two different doctors. The possibility of a woman waiting outside of the current legal timeframe--up to 20 weeks--to receive an abortion is very real.
I refrained from using the term "pro-life" in this article because, while I do believe anti-abortion activists think they're pro-life, they are only truly against the act of aborting the fetus and allowing it to remain unborn. Let me clarify: the anti-abortionist doesn't care if a child is being born into an abusive household. The anti-abortionist doesn't care if the child is kept by the mother or placed for adoption. The anti-abortionist doesn't care that the mother of the child may genuinely not want to be a mother, for whatever reason, and that she may be giving up her own life to raise a child she isn't prepared to raise. The anti-abortionist doesn't care that the child may be neglected and even resented for this reason. The anti-abortionist doesn't care that the baby may be brought into a house in poverty, with the mother or parents being unable to provide for the child. The anti-abortionist doesn't care that a woman, unable to be approved for a funded abortion, may take matters into her own hands, seriously injuring herself or the baby. The anti-abortionist doesn't care about what happens to that baby after being born, and the anti-abortionist certainly doesn't care about the mother at all.
People labelling themselves as "pro-life" need to think about what that means. A woman is not just an incubator for an unborn child--she deserves a choice in what she's going to do for the rest of her life, and when or if she is ready to be a mother. Abstinence isn't the answer and, in some instances, simply cannot be.
If you support this issue and feel strongly about it, here's what you can do:
- Read and share this article: Fredericton's Morgantaler Clinic is Closing, and Here is Why you Should Care - The Belle Jar
- Sign this petition on change.org
- Attend the Rally for Our Right to Accessible Abortion in Fredericton, NB
- Write your MLA and demand their support to rescind the portion of general regulation 84-20 that restricts abortion
- Tweet with the #NBProchoice hashtag to continue the discussion and expedite awareness
On a personal note, I don't really like sharing political issues in my blog, but I am sick and tired of women being told what they can and cannot do with their own bodies by other people--especially when it's because of other people's personal beliefs. This is a human rights issue. I'm heartbroken and ashamed that our province is being pushed back to an age that we, as women, need other people's permission to make decisions for ourselves. Regardless of what you personally feel on the matter, whether to receive an abortion or not should be the woman's choice, not yours--end of story.