New Brunswick Govt Says It Will Find New Abortion Center After Hospital Stops

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 19, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Brunswick Govt Says It Will Find New Abortion Center After Hospital Stops Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 19, 2006

Fredericton, Canada ( — Officials with the Canadian province of New Brunswick say they will work to find a new abortion facility to replace a Fredericton hospital, which said it will stop doing abortions on June 30. Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital did almost all of the abortions in the province that are paid for with taxpayer funds through Canada’s health plan.

Health Department spokesman Steven Benteau told the Canadian Press that the provincial government is looking at its options following Chalmers’ announcement this week.

"It performed most of the medically necessary abortions in the province," Benteau said of the hospital.

"Now that they are not going to provide that service, we will ensure the service continues to be provided to New Brunswick women," he added.

Abortions that are supposedly medically necessary are paid for through the Canada health plan and the Medicare system in New Brunswick paid for 404 abortions, 400 of which were done at Chalmers.

Another hospital in Fredericton had also been performing abortions but stopped months ago.

Most women who live in the province go to the Morgentaler Clinic, a private abortion facility run by infamous abortion practitioner Henry Morgentaler, which does about 600 abortions annually.

He has sued the province because it won’t pay for the abortions done at his abortion business. That case is still in court. Women pay anywhere from $500 to $750 for abortions at his facility.

Now that Chalmers has stopped doing abortions, Morgentaler and abortion advocates have an easier claim to make that the province is required under the Canada Health Act to pay for the abortions since there is no other abortion facility to do them.

Leader Allison Brewer, a former director of the Morgentaler Clinic, said the abortion business exists "because the service is not being adequately provided by the provincial government."

"This latest move is just confirmation that the government wants to get out of [doing abortions] … and they are going to put the entire responsibility for that on the shoulders of [the Morgentaler abortion center]," Brewer said.

The hospital said it would stop doing abortions because its obstetrics department is overworked and understaffed.

Dr. Bill Cooke, the vice-president of medical affairs at Chalmers Hospital, told the CBC that it is up to individual doctors at the hospital to determine whether they want to do abortions on their own.

"The services that are provided by any one particular physician, whether it’s in a specialty or in family practice, are the choices of those physicians," he told CBC.

Health Minister Brad Green says the hospital is working with other health care facilities to find another place that will do the abortions.

"That work is ongoing so I’m not in a position today to answer for you how we’re going to deal with, what the province has announced but I can say we’re working on the issue," he told the CBC.

Abortion advocates, just before the recent Canadian elections, lamented that just 20 percent of the hospitals in Canada perform abortions, which they claim makes access to abortion difficult for rural and low-income women.

They advocated Canadian voters support candidates from the Liberal party, where just 12 percent of the party candidates oppose abortion. Some 70 percent of the members of the Conservative Party are pro-life while none of the MPs of the Bloc Quebecois or NDP oppose abortion.

In 2002, there were 105,154 abortions in Canada compared with a figure of 106,270 in 2001. The number of abortions in Canada peaked in 1997 at 112,000.

Abortion in Canada were legalized in a 1998 Supreme Court of Canada ruling.