Conservatives Drop Liberal Effort to Force New Brunswick to Fund Private Clinics Abortions

By Hilary White

  FREDERICTON, December 12, 2006 ( – The long-running dispute between the province of New Brunswick and the federal government over who should pay for abortions in for-profit abortion facilities may be drawing to its end.

  This week, federal Health Minister Tony Clement told the Telegraph-Journal Saturday that the government does not intend to pursue the matter.

  Under the Liberal government, health minister Ujjal Dosanjh had insisted that the province fund abortions in Morgentaler’s facility, but the Canada Health Act specifies it is up to provinces to determine what are “medically necessary” procedures and therefore covered on the public tab. Donsanjh had named a three-member panel to resolve the issue but that plan stalled when the Conservatives won the last federal election.

  The abortion issue is “off the radar,” Clement said. “We were waiting for the results of the New Brunswick election,” said Clement. “I have not heard formally or informally from the new minister of health (Mike Murphy) on the issue and really the ball is in their court to have the discussion. I don’t want to preclude any option from him. He has to decide what their stance is on this issue and communicate it to us.”

  The previous Conservative government of New Brunswick had a strict policy of not funding medical procedures in private clinics, including that of infamous abortionist Dr. Henry Morgentaler in Fredericton. Currently, under the Liberals, there are no plans to change the policy.

  Health Minister Mike Murphy said the issue was not a priority for him either and told the Telegraph-Journal, “it hasn’t come up on my agenda whatsoever.”

  Local pro-life leaders are relieved at the news. Peter Ryan, head of New Brunswick Right to Life Association, told that it was good news. “There really is no need for a dispute.”

  Ryan said that New Brunswick’s policy of refusing to fund to a private clinic where abortions are performed electively, “is reasonable, ethical and legal.”

“In such a matter, Ottawa should defer to provincial jurisdiction over health care. That seems to be what Mr. Clement is now doing. It’s a positive move,” Ryan said.

  Read related coverage:
  No Decision Yet on Forcing New Brunswick to Pay for Private Clinic Abortion Says Health Minister

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