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Medical Services Payment Act, Regulation 84-20

Abortion in New Brunswick is currently regulated under the Medical Services Payment Act. Reproductive Justice NB has identified s. 2.01(b) of the Act and Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2, clause a.1 as legal barriers for those wanting to access an abortion. In 1994, the government of New Brunswick added s. 2.01(b) to the regulation that stated that the government would not fund procedures offered within private facilities if those procedures are done within provincial institutions, i.e. hospitals. Further, Reg. 84-20 Schedule 2 (a.1) states that abortions must be deemed to be medically necessary by two doctors and done at a hospital by a specialist in obstetrics or gynaecology. In clear terms, those seeking a medicare-covered abortion in New Brunswick must seek the approval of two doctors to certify the procedure as "medically necessary," and must have it performed in a hospital in the province by a specialist in obstetrics or gynaecology. Currently, the only facilities doing abortions in New Brunswick are the Dr. Georges L. Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton and the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst. Dr. Henry Morgentaler opened the abortion clinic in Fredericton in 1994 and began a court battle to have the aforementioned statutes repealed. The Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic performed over half of the abortions in the province, approximately 600 to 700 each year. The Morgentaler Clinic closed at the end of July 2014 due to financial difficulties arising from New Brunswick's restrictive policies. The clinic was subsidizing many of the procedures to ensure that no one was ever turned away who needed an abortion. Upon his death in 2013, the case was still before the courts. Morgentaler's case did achieve legal standing but he was unable to press forward. A similar law was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and was struck down in Nova Scotia when challenged before the courts.

Reproductive Justice NB calls for the immediate repeal of s. 2.01(b) of the Medical Services Payment Act and Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1).

Access to reproductive healthcare in New Brunswick

Reproductive health clinics are more comfortable, private and person-centred environments than hospitals for those accessing abortion services. Those attempting to access abortion services in rural New Brunswick may incur costs of travel and accommodations, a cost that is refunded by medicare in other provinces. Pre/post-procedure supportive care, including accessing a doctor for referral, is also a concern for those who have to travel greater distances to a clinic or hospital. An abortion at the Morgentaler Clinic costs a patient between $700 and $850, which includes the costs of physician fees, staff wages and clinic operating costs. The cost of an abortion in a hospital is estimated to cost between $1,800 and $2,300. The current reproductive healthcare system in New Brunswick is not meeting the needs of New Brunswickers and requires immediate action.

Reproductive Justice NB calls for the expansion of publicly-funded reproductive healthcare clinics in New Brunswick that provide abortion on demand that is covered by medicare as provided in abortion clinics in other provinces.