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Advocates react to New Brunswick’s amended abortion access motion

Click to play video: 'Experts say N.B. PC majority government continuing to defy the Canada Health Act' Experts say N.B. PC majority government continuing to defy the Canada Health Act
WATCH: New Brunswick’s PC majority government has sanded down the edges of an apposition motion seeking to expand abortion access in the provinces-experts say continuing to defy the Canada Health Act. Travis Fortnum reports – Dec 18, 2020

After New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative majority government sanded the edges off an opposition motion to expand abortion access in the province, advocates say they’re not surprised.

“This problem has been going on for I think well over 25 years. It’s ridiculous,” says Joyce Arthur, director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.

Read more: New Brunswick PC majority removes thrust of opposition’s abortion motion, reference to Clinic 554

New Brunswick Medicare currently covers surgical abortions at three hospitals in the province – two in Moncton and one in Bathurst.

Advocates like Arthur have argued that isn’t sufficient – and have even pointed to evidence that this is in violation of the Canada Health Act.

The province’s government has recanted that it’s received legal advice to the contrary.

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“I think the New Brunswick government is actually anti-abortion,” Arthur says.

“They’re imposing an ideological view on the people of New Brunswick and it just can’t last.”

University of New Brunswick associate law professor Kerri Froc also questions the province’s stance – and the source of the aforementioned legal advice.

“I think they’re sticking their heads in the sand because the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has already said they’re going to be constitutionally challenging 84-20,” she says.

“It’s litigation that’s doomed to be found against the government.”

Click to play video: 'Clinic 554 shuts down after months of advocacy efforts for abortion rights' Clinic 554 shuts down after months of advocacy efforts for abortion rights
Clinic 554 shuts down after months of advocacy efforts for abortion rights – Oct 2, 2020

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association notified the province of its intent to challenge on Oct. 29.

In New Brunswick, two months’ notice needs to be given before a statement of claim can be filed.

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The CCLA tells Global News it intends to file that statement next month when that waiting period is over — it’s prepared to take the province to court.

Read more: Civil liberties group launches legal action against N.B. for greater abortion access

Froc says the province shouldn’t let it come to that.

“They’re using taxpayer dollars essentially to fight taxpayers, which I think is repugnant,” she says.

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