Federal health minister announces research into challenges accessing abortion in N.B.

Click to play video: 'Federal health minister tours Clinic 544 in Fredericton' Federal health minister tours Clinic 544 in Fredericton
New Brunswick’s English health authority believes it is providing adequate access to abortion. In a letter, Horizon Health Network CEO Karen McGrath says the authority sees no reason to expand access at this time. It comes as the issue is getting renewed federal attention ahead of a rumoured election. Silas Brown has more – Aug 3, 2021

The federal health minister committed $366,000 today for research on challenges women face accessing abortion in New Brunswick.

Patty Hajdu made the announcement in Fredericton, saying the study to be led by the University of New Brunswick will provide data for advocates to show the necessity of providing abortions at Clinic 554 in the provincial capital.

Read more: New Brunswick health authority says ‘no need’ to increase abortion services

She says Ottawa would be outside of its jurisdiction if it directly increased funding for abortions at clinics, though she says the clinics and other abortion providers can apply for funding to help women with travel and other assistance to reach clinics.

New Brunswick law bans government funding for abortions conducted outside three approved hospitals — two in Moncton and one in Bathurst — and the province has refused funding for Clinic 554.

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Read more: Feds ‘working extremely hard’ on abortion access in New Brunswick: Trudeau

The provincial Progressive Conservative government of Blaine Higgs has accused Ottawa of attempting to turn abortion access into a federal election issue, and Higgs has said the Horizon Health Network — which covers Fredericton — doesn’t think it is necessary to add abortion services in the province.

Hajdu said organizations such as the Fredericton clinic can apply for a share of Ottawa’s recent budget commitment of $45 million for supports such as training materials, public awareness activities and travel and logistical support for people who could not otherwise access abortion services.

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