Opposing abortion groups protest outside N.B. legislature

FREDERICTON, N.B. – Two groups used the first sitting of the legislature to protest access to abortion in New Brunswick.

Last month, Premier Brian Gallant promised to repeal regulation 84-20 in January.

The regulation, commonly referred to as the “two-doctor rule,” states that women seeking abortions need to have two doctors sign off on the procedure.

Groups, like Reproductive Justice N.B., said this is a first step, but it’s not far enough.

“Repealing 84-20 actually removes the need for two doctors to say it’s medically necessary, but it doesn’t remove the need for someone to refer you to get to the hospital. And it doesn’t guarantee that the hospital is going to have pro-choice policies,” said Hannah Gray, a member of Reproductive Justice NB.

Reproductive Justice NB said this is a first step, but it’s not far enough. Kevin Godwin/Global News

Reproductive Justice is asking the government to go further. They would like to see government funding clinics for abortion services, not just hospitals.

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But others say repealing 84-20 is the wrong way to go, and without debate in the house, it’s undemocratic.

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Right to Life N.B. said the changes could force doctors to refer women for services that they don’t agree with.

“We think it would be an abuse of power not to allow the legislature to deliberate the matter and vote on such a very big, contentious matter,” said Peter Ryan, executive director of N.B. Right to Life. “We’re not anti-choice, anti-woman. We are for women, and it is out of deep concern for the well being of women that we are here today.”

N.B. Right to Life said it’s not true that the government is just following federal law.

“The biggest single lie that is being foisted upon the people is this idea that the Charter of Rights is making the government do this change. As if the government has no choice but to abide by the Charter of Rights. That is baloney. There is no obligation under Canadian law, the Charter of Rights, the Canada Health Act. No obligation for a government to provide tax funded abortion on demand,” said Ryan.

But according to Reproductive Justice N.B., the law is clear.

“Nova Scotia went to the Supreme Court in 1993 to discuss whether or not you needed private care and they lost that. Free standing clinics I mean, and they lost that. It is absolutely in line with the Canada Health Act to provide care in clinics,” said Gray.

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Both groups said they will continue to protest for as long as it takes.

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