Lack of answers frustrates Fredericton abortion clinic supporters
It has been a month since Fredericton’s only abortion clinic has been put up for sale, and supporters say they are frustrated with a lack of movement on provincial abortion regulations.
Clinic 554 had been providing abortion services, but because they weren’t in a hospital setting, the procedures weren’t covered by New Brunswick’s provincial health care insurance.
“It is financially unsustainable for us to keep our doors open, and the clinic has been placed for sale,” said Dr. Adrian Edgar, Clinic 554 Medical Director on October 10th.
Dr. Edgar said his clinic serves 3000 people as their family doctor, but also provided abortion services to people who can’t make it to Bathurst or Moncton hospitals.
Two weeks before the federal election, the doctor of the Fredericton clinic announced he was putting it up for sale.
The building was put up for sale in mid-October, listed on website for $589,900.
While campaigning in Fredericton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised if re-elected, he would contact New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs about the clinic.
“We will ensure that the New Brunswick government allows paid for access to clinics that offer abortion services outside of hospitals. I will sit down with Premier Higgs if re-elected and let him know that we will use all tools at our disposal, including tools that exist under the Canada Health Act,” said Trudeau during a October 15th campaign stop in Fredericton.
Last month, Horizon Health passed a motion at its board meeting.
“The Horizon Health Network board requested that the government of New Brunswick consider payment to physicians to provide abortion services in a quality and safe environment outside of hospitals. The goal of this motion is to improve access to any approved services that can be safely be provided in the community.”
But supporters of Clinic 554 say they haven’t heard from the province, or the re-elected Liberal government, despite multiple phone calls and e-mails.
“The fact that the Minister of Health, who one would think would be in close communication with Horizon Health would be aware that the health authority has said, ‘Yep, this is a thing that should happen,’, but silence so far,” says Olivier Hebert, a LGBTQ advocate and patient of Clinic 554.
Hebert says he and other supporters are frustrated that there’s been no movement on that regulation, even after the Prime Minister spoke out against it.
A group on Prince Edward Island raised over $2000 during a fundraiser Saturday night, with much of that money going to the effort to save Clinic 554.
They also gathered 70 signatures on a petition and are hoping a P.E.I. MLA will present it in the legislature.
“That’s really great to see,” says Hebert. “The unfortunate thing is that we are seeing what we do not want to see in the sense that the community should not be the ones responsible for making this happen.”
Supporters of Clinic 554 have a rally planned outside the New Brunswick legislature on November 19th, the date when MLA’s return for a new legislative session.