Morgentaler Clinic saved, temporarily!

The FundRazr campaign I blogged about recently has been fully funded, and New Brunswick’s only reproductive health clinic that offers abortion services has been saved from impending bankruptcy!

Canada.com reports:

The Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton is slated to close when their lease expires at the end of July due to lack of funds. Unlike every other province with private abortion clinics, the New Brunswick government refuses to provide funding for abortion services unless they are performed in a hospital and are deemed “medically necessary” by two doctors.

With time running out, more than 1,100 people have now donated more than $100,000 to a crowdfunding campaign on FundRazr.com. The group behind the campaign, Reproductive Justice NB (RJNB), plans to use the funds to negotiate a new lease agreement for the clinic’s building on Brunswick Street in Fredericton.

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Save the Morgentaler Clinic!

There’s a fundraiser going around to try to fund the now-broke Morgentaler Clinic, New Brunswick’s only abortion clinic. This clinic’s bankruptcy comes thanks to the laws enacted by conservative religious politicians which ensure that the only abortions that are funded by medicare (as legally required by Health Canada) are those that are approved by TWO doctors during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

The Fundrazr site says:

Please help us ensure the people of New Brunswick have access to safe abortion on demand.

Reproductive Justice New Brunswick (RJNB) is a collective of individuals from across New Brunswick dedicated to ensuring publicly funded and self-referred abortion is available in the province. We demand the repeal of NB Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1) of the Medical Services Payment Act which requires two doctors to sign off that the procedure is “medically required” and that it must be performed in a hospital by an OBGYN. As a result, the people of New Brunswick have unequal access to abortion services as compared to the rest of Canada.

The Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, New Brunswick’s only public reproductive health clinic is slated to close on July 18th 2014, resulting from this restrictive provincial legislation. As a result, New Brunswick is in a crisis situation.

The current provincial government, as well as the official opposition, refuse to take action. The current barriers to abortion set in place by the Government of New Brunswick are not only unconstitutional, they are dangerous; when abortion is restricted or difficult to access, health and wellbeing declines.

Reproductive Justice NB has begun an effort to lease the existing Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton. The collective is in discussion with the building’s owners to enter into a lease agreement and further explore options to encourage family practitioners who support a person’s right to full reproductive services, including the right to abortion. The estimate cost of the lease agreement is $100,000.

While securing a lease agreement is a bandaid solution and does not automatically mean New Brunswickers will have improved abortion access, it does give the people of New Brunswick a fighting chance to access their rights under the Charter of Rights and the Canada Health Act.

Please consider helping Reproductive Justice New Brunswick reach this important goal.

Every donation, however large or small, is one step closer to ensuring reproductive choice in New Brunswick. Unless this oppressive regulation is overturned, New Brunswickers will not have equal access to abortion services. If Reproductive Justice NB is unable to raise the full $100,000, all money raised will go towards renewed efforts to overturn the Medical Services Payment Act.

To download a fact sheet about lack of abortion access in New Brunswick, please visit choixnbchoice.org.



If you have any money to contribute to this campaign, this is as worthy a cause as any other. New Brunswick’s Morgentaler clinic has in the past vowed to provide necessary medical care to anyone in need, whether the government pays for it (as mandated by Health Canada) or not. That’s how the clinic is now in such dire straits. If you can kick in some money, please do.

If the above widget doesn’t work for whatever reason, go to the Fundrazr site.

Dr Henry Morgentaler’s Legacy

I hail from New Brunswick originally. I left for university, and by the end of my degree, I had decided to remain. At the time, the government was growing more conservative, and one of their great bugaboos was the number of people moving out — their population was essentially in free-fall.

Granted, the population wasn’t exactly huge to begin with. It had declined from 738,133 in 1996, to 729,498 in 2001 — a loss of 1.2%. It stagnated through 2006 — 729,997. The government started making noises about enticing emigrants, about stabilizing the job market and doing something about its flagging tech sector; there was a big to-do about this decline, to be sure. And the population began to swell again, to 751,171 in 2011.

In late 2013, another population decline — a mere 1000 person shortfall — caused another huge stir, such that the “Progressive” Conservative legislature under leader David Alward lamented the possibility of only seeing his grandchildren through Skype.

In the wake of that first scare, followed by the more recent revelation that outmigration is skyrocketing, it’s no surprise that the conservative New Brunswick political scene voted for the “Medical Services Payment Act”, Regulation 84-20, which had a bomb in it for abortion services. Now, throughout the province, abortions are no longer funded by the government as mandated by Health Canada, unless certified by TWO doctors as being “medically necessary”. How else are you going to swell your numbers except to force women to give birth?

As a result of this abrogation of women’s right to bodily autonomy, the Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton — founded by the legendary Dr. Henry Morgentaler himself — is forced to close.

The rules of the clinic were set up such that nobody who needed abortion services would be turned away under any circumstances, and because the government stiffed them on the bills and they took a huge loss last year, they have to close up shop.

Back in 2009, Carl Urquhart, a Conservative MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly, the Canadian equivalent of a congressman) suggested with regard to the population decline that women should be making more babies, a statement he posted on Facebook that he’d later walked back. He was especially chastised for this in light of the province’s growing teenage pregnancy problem.

That’s about as transparent a reasoning as you can get for Conservatives’ anti-choice efforts. It was a refreshing moment of honesty from that party.

And this huge success in the fight to control what people can and cannot do with their reproductive organs comes just shy of a year after Dr. Henry Morgentaler — founder of the clinic — died of a heart attack. Morgentaler’s efforts practically single-handedly won the fight for safe, legal abortion nation-wide in 1988 with his appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, where they overturned the whole of the Canadian abortion law as unconstitutional. The man was a lion for women’s rights, human rights, and reproductive freedom. And his legacy is being rent before our eyes.

Women can still theoretically get abortions in hospitals — providing they get two doctors to sign off on the “medically necessary” waiver — but as this map shows, access to abortion didn’t come with its newfound legality. When your government tightly controls the demand for babies, you can force the supply by restricting access to any choice but becoming a baby-factory.

You might understandably make the mistake that the “demand” is actually for abortions, but then you’d be misunderstanding the directionality of these laws. In the fight for women’s bodily autonomy, the uterus is actually the supply, and the government apparently gets to make the demands.

For what it’s worth, here’s the state of the struggle for abortion rights through Canada. You’ll note that almost no place in Canada actually has access to an abortion clinic or hospital within a reasonable travel time, and that the gestation limits are terribly restrictive in a number of cases — some as low as 12 weeks, like New Brunswick. Many provinces have absolutely no access to abortions, medical or otherwise.

This fight is hardly won, despite it being unconstitutional to restrict abortions, and despite it being both legal and defined explicitly by Health Canada.

Canadian abortion rights doctor Morgentaler dead at 90

Doctor Henlek “Henry” Morgentaler, Polish-born Canadian immigrant, has died of a heart attack on May 29th, 2013. He was a Nazi prison camp survivor, and became a physician and family planning doctor in Montreal in 1955. He presented a brief to the House of Commons in 1967 about illegal abortions, arguing that women had the right to safe, legal ones. He eventually began performing abortions in 1968. He was physically assaulted and jailed in Canada numerous times for his advocacy, but ultimately vindicated by society.
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