Abortion-rights advocates question access to information in N.B.
The debate over access to abortions in New Brunswick now includes questions about access to abortion information.
Abortion-rights advocates say the province’s Tele-Care line is only giving partial information to women looking to undergo the procedure, but anti-abortion advocates say the timing of their criticisms is suspicious, as the province’s only privately-operated abortion clinic is set to close.
In New Brunswick, dialing 811 connects you to a registered nurse. The toll-free line is supposed to be used for non-emergency health matters.
Jaden Fitzherbert, an advocate of abortion rights, dialed the number last week and represented herself as somebody with an unwanted pregnancy.
She says she expected to receive a contact number for the public health office, but was surprised when none was given.
“I didn’t get any phone numbers from them, and I also got three phone numbers for anti-choice organizations,” says Fitzherbert.
Fitzherbert is a member of Reproductive Justice New Brunswick, and says other members have dialed the line, only to receive information connecting them with groups against the procedure.
“When she gave me the number she said these were pregnancy resource centres, so I would assume she was not aware of what phone numbers she was giving,” says Fitzherbert.
The New Brunswick Department of Health says the Tele-Care line receives about 80,000 calls every year on a number of issues.
It is the policy of the Tele-Care operator not to refer a patient directly to any specialist. If the woman sought information about what resources might be available in that patient’s community, contact information for any organization in the database would be provided.
Any organization that wants to be added to the database can do so by contacting the Department of Health.
“I’m hoping that the government, we do some kind of review and put some more information in,” says Fitzherbert.
Access to abortions has long been a contentious issue in New Brunswick, especially since it was announced the Morgentaler Clinic would be closing this summer.
Peter Ryan, the executive director of the New Brunswick Right to Life Association, says clinic supporters are simply trying to stir up controversy after the announcement.
Staff say the Morgentaler Clinic is still set to close by the end of July.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore