Teresa McCann-Tumidajski, the director of Maine Right to Life said, “The 2011 report indicates abortions in Maine plunged to a record low of 1,773. That’s an amazing 23.3% reduction in abortions from 2010, or 538 babies saved in just one year. For a 4th consecutive year, abortions in Maine declined at an astonishing pace. This is a watershed moment in pro-life Maine.”
However, now reports show that women are traveling from Canada to Maine to get abortions. This is most likely because the Canadian province of New Brunswick (which borders Maine to the east) recently closed its only private abortion facility. The Morgentaler abortion clinic in Fredericton closed after a 20-year fight with the New Brunswick government over taxpayer funding for abortions.
Abortions are legal in Canada and, according to the New Brunswick Medical Services Payment Act, paid for by the state, in certain circumstances. Two physicians have to say the abortion is medically necessary, and it has to be performed by one of two approved hospitals.
Many women face problems finding a supportive family doctor — let alone two — for the time-sensitive procedure, so many abortions in New Brunswick happened at The Morgentaler Clinic. Physicians there performed about 600 abortions a year, or 60 percent of all pregnancy terminations in the province.
Now that the clinic has closed, some women are going across the border. “We have seen a significant increase in the number of women from New Brunswick in our clinics,” says Ruth Lockhart, the co-founder of the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center in Bangor, Maine. “We only do abortions once a week, but at our last clinic, half of the clients were from New Brunswick,”
But women who come the US for abortions face obstacles as well. For one, they need a valid passport. And Rachel Cave, a reporter from CBC New Brunswick who traveled to Maine to report on the story, points out that “you’re looking at a 10-hour round trip, and [you’re] probably not doing that in a day. So now you’re looking at hotel costs.”
So while Lockhart and other abortion providers who spoke to Cave say they’re happy to fill the gap, they’re also concerned: “So far, and we’re new into this piece of it, it’s the women with resources who are able to make it here. So my concern is always the women without resources who don’t come, who aren’t able to come,” Lockhart says.
Thankfully, the pro-life movement in Canada has a long-standing history of putting most of its resources into pregnancy care centers – showing love and compassion for abortion minded and post-abortive women as well as caring for their children and families.
The President of LifeCanada, Monica Roddis, said, “There is clearly a considerable gulf between government policies on abortion and Canadians’ opinions. Canadians strongly oppose abortion being legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy and they don’t want to pay for them except in exceptional circumstances.”
Hopefully, Canadian women will reach out to pregnancy centers and get the real help they need; rather than traveling to Maine to kill their baby.