Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights celebrates New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant’s announcement, whereby a significant barrier to accessing legal abortion services in the province will be lifted effective January 2015.
The announcement follows the work of advocates in the province and across the country who have fought for decades to ensure that all people have access to this essential health service, in line with the Canadian Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Canada Health Act, as well as Canada’s commitments under the Program of Action of the International Convention on Population and Development.
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights believes in bodily integrity and supports choice and the right of all people to make autonomous decisions about their reproductive and sexual lives. This amendment is a step in that direction.
The repeal of abortion restrictions in regulation 84-20 will no longer require two doctors to certify the procedure as medically necessary and will remove a significant barrier experienced by those seeking abortion services in the province. Its repeal is a welcome step forward in meeting the basic principles of the Canada Health Act criteria for medical services, including comprehensiveness, universality, portability, and accessibility.
“In Canada and globally, people continue to face obstacles in seeking safe abortion services, spanning across a number issues, from the number of available providers to stigma and discrimination,” says Action Canada Executive Director Sandeep Prasad on the issue. These barriers affect most substantively low-income women, those living in rural or remote areas and vulnerable communities such as refugee claimants. “Governments at all levels have an obligation to ensure that the service is accessible to all those seeking it in Canada and financially covered by provincial and territorial health insurance when performed in hospitals as well as in clinics.”
The limited number of service providers in New Brunswick and Canada continues to be one of the many remaining barriers for those seeking abortion.
“The amendment has been a long time coming, and we are hopeful that it represents an awareness of the urgency of the issue around access in New Brunswick, across Canada and globally. It is the duty of governments to monitor barriers in accessing the service and proactively seek to address them on an ongoing basis” adds Prasad.