There’s always the hanger

New Brunswick (the one in Canada, not the one in New Jersey) has exceptionally harsh restrictions on abortion.

In 1994, the province banned abortions in clinics outside of hospitals. Federal rulings changed that in 1995, but people needing the procedure were forced to pay out of pocket.

Since then, the province’s Morgentaler Clinic saved many from unwanted pregnancies. But following its closure in July, the government’s restrictions on abortion are too tight to accommodate people’s needs. Newly sworn-in premier Brian Gallant has pledged to remove barriers to abortion in the province, but has not yet come through with anything in the way of solid action.

Sounds like Canada’s Texas.

Reproductive Justice NB tried to raise the money to save the clinic, but though they surpassed their first fundraising goal of $100,000, they couldn’t raise enough to keep it going. The group maintains that two harmful regulations need to be repealed immediately. The first is NB Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1) of the Medical Services Payment Act, which stipulates that, for the procedure to be funded, two doctors must sign off that an abortion is “medically required.” It also stipulates that the procedure be performed in a hospital by an OB/GYN doctor, even though it could just as well be carried out by a general practitioner or nurse practitioner.

The other regulation, found in Section 2.01, prohibits abortion clinics like the Morgentaler Clinic from receiving government funding.

In other words, the tax money that funds health care in Canada, so women who use such clinics are made to pay twice.

Why would Canada want to have a Texas?


  1. HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr says

    NB is really more like Canada’s Arkansas or maybe West Virginia. Alberta’s more Texan, with the oil money. NB had prayer in the public schools when I went there not so long ago, and no jobs.

    I remember being terrified that I’d need the $800+ upfront if I did get pregnant, or else I’d have to try to plead my case to two independent doctors that I medically needed an abortion.

  2. Jenora Feuer says

    The Wikipedia page on Dr. Henry Morgentaler is an interesting summary of the state of abortion law in Canada over the last few decades. At this point, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are the only provinces that pretty much flout federal law regarding abortions being treated as essential medical services. (P.E.I. can sort of get away with it; the population of the entire province is less than 150,000 people, and for a lot of medical care you have to go out of province. New Brunswick has no such excuse.)

    It is rather sad to see that the government of New Brunswick is essentially taking advantage of last year’s death of Dr. Morgentaler and resulting lack of his public advocacy and willingness to fight.

  3. HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr says

    Pretty much, the two are extremely similar, at least based on my having spent most of my life in one, and living very close to the other as a result.

    The Morgentaler clinic in NB also served PEI, which has zero abortion access of its own. Now it’s a trip to Maine for many NB and PEI residents facing an unplanned pregnancy. Oh, and because of course: the bus system within NB, which was the only way for residents without vehicles to get from city to city across the province, has been slashed to the bone. So if you can get the money (in a province with 10% unemployment), and the time off work (because of course, that’s very easy), you can maybe see if you can possibly get out of the province for the procedure, which would require an overnight stay wherever you do go. Add in a doctor shortage where of every friend I had when I left NB, I knew one other person my age who had a family doctor. ONE. So getting BC prescriptions and long-term BC or, say, referral for a hospital abortion was difficult for pretty much everyone. Here’s hoping the doctor you get wasn’t a fundamentalist too, when I say it’s closer to Arkansas or Mississippi, I meant in a lot of the moral climate too. Plus, the cost of the abortion itself when it was accessible there was the same as a month’s rent in a good, large apartment or duplex.

    New Brunswick is a heartbreakingly beautiful place, but there’s a lot of reasons why I left.

  4. says

    Rurality (to use a clunky word) and religious zealotry are symbiotic, aren’t they. Rural places are likely to be religious-conservative and they’re logistically difficult – and those things feed on each other.

  5. Barb's Wire says

    Alberta has always been referred to as Texas North – conservative, religious, oil rich snd loves it’s guns n’ bibles. It is also unfortunately the province the current evangelical neo-con Canadian Prime Minister called home. Even there, though, there is greater access to abortion than on the east coast…. though only until 20 weeks.

    Evangelical and fundamentalist religion and conservatism is getting a nasty foothold in Canada. Women need always be on guard for the clawing back of their rights which could happen any time, in any province, depending upon who is elected, and the province’s demographics. No one could imagine a very conservative, openly “religious”, homophobic, highly sexist (also inibriated and drugged out) Rob Ford as mayor of our largest city, Toronto, 20 years ago, for example.

  6. Jenora Feuer says

    Rob Ford we can lay at the feet of Mike Harris, to a large extent. For two reasons:
    First, Mike Harris’ playing of the politics of resentment of the comparatively rural suburbs against the downtown was a good chunk of Rob Ford’s playbook and how he got elected. People with little actual political involvement seeing tax money spent elsewhere and complaining that it wasn’t being spent on them instead, never mind the fact that there are reasons why the downtown core has a lot more to support.
    And second, because Mike Harris’ forcible amalgamation of the previous seven municipalities into one Toronto not only allowed Ford to do exactly that by putting Etobicoke and the like in the same tax basin as downtown, but also caused other problems to come up with public service contract renewals, and helped create a city council that was pretty much guaranteed to not be able to do anything.

    It is disheartening that Doug Ford, despite being even more obnoxious than his brother, still managed to pull off over 30% of the vote.

  7. Hj Hornbeck says

    You missed the most depressing parts:

    Because it’s so tough to have an abortion in New Brunswick, people are forced to visit clinics outside of the province, whether in St. John’s, Montreal, or Maine. Most people the group hears from are heading to Maine for their abortions. Earlier this month, half of the patients to walk through the doors of one Bangor clinic were from New Brunswick. But that option will only work if you have a passport and some extra cash. […]

    For students, single mothers, and others facing financial challenges, the costs are prohibitive. If you live in New Brunswick and don’t have a valid Medicare card, you’re looking at a cost of $2,000, even if you’re a Canadian citizen. Essentially, it’s cheaper to just go to Maine, where it costs about $500. But traveling to Maine is not a long-term solution for the province. Pye says the clinics there are becoming overloaded.

    Yep, it’s so bad that Canadians are going to the USA to get cheap, safe abortion. We’re not as pro-choice as we like to think.

    Also, minor nitpick: the idea behind the coat-hangar was to (CAREFULLY!) scrape the engorged uterine wall and cause it to bleed, then pop into the nearest emergency room. It worked well thirty years ago, when doctors automatically did an abortion when they saw blood, but nowadays they’ve gotten extremely good at diagnosing ectopic pregnancies and won’t fall for it. The current (and much, much safer) technique-of-choice is in the article:

    Jaden Fitzherbert is with Reproductive Justice New Brunswick, an advocacy group created after the news broke that the clinic was going to close. She says at least one woman that she knows of has taken four misoprostol to induce a miscarriage.

    Generally taken in conjunction with methotrexate or mifepristone (or RU-486/the “abortion pill”), misoprostol is not FDA-approved in Canada—but it is available online. Fitzherbert tells me the woman took only the misoprostol, and that the miscarriage was not a complete one. She had to go to the hospital.

    “Thankfully, she was fine and she ended up having a miscarriage and not dying, which was fantastic,” Fitzherbert says.

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