Effective pro-life lobbying in New Brunswick from 1980s still bearing fruit, says researcher
FREDERICTON, New Brunswick, June 3, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life lobbying efforts in New Brunswick were instrumental in preventing Canadian arch-abortionist Henry Morgentaler from setting up a private abortion facility in the province during the 1980s, and even led a Moncton hospital to cease committing the deadly procedure for six months in 1982, a University of Waterloo researcher told an academic conference this week.
“The pro-life movement was very effective at shaping public policy,” said doctoral student Katrina Ackerman on Tuesday at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Fredericton, according to the Daily Gleaner. Her talk was entitled ‘Not In The Atlantic Provinces: The Abortion Debate in New Brunswick, 1980-1987’.
Ackerman, who has volunteered as an escort at Morgentaler’s Fredericton facility, said pro-lifers were able to lobby Richard Hatfield’s Progressive Conservative government to amend the province’s abortion law, Bill 92, in 1985 so that abortions would be restricted to hospitals.
“Through mass letter-writing campaigns, protests outside hospitals and harassing doctors at the Moncton Hospital, they were able to shape the government’s decision,” she explained.
Morgentaler challenged the law in 1994, and was able to set up his Fredericton facility, though he has failed so far in his attempts to force the government to pay for the abortions his facility commits.
Pro-life lobbying efforts in New Brunswick remain relatively strong, with active pro-life groups in over a dozen communities, and hundreds attending their annual March for Life in Fredericton.
Last month, a group of pro-life advocates in Bathurst attended their local hospital’s monthly public board meeting to call on them to protect the right to life, reported the Telegraph-Journal. Ron Jessulat of the Bathurst Right to Life Committee noted that government data shows the Bathurst hospital committed 119 abortions from May 2009 to April 2010, compared to three in Fredericton and one in Edmundston. Calling abortion “just another form of genocide,” he called on the hospital to lobby New Brunswick’s justice minister to cease abortions in the community.
In her presentation, Ackerman said that before Canada’s abortion law was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1988, abortion access was limited in New Brunswick by the fact that doctors would not form the therapeutic abortion committees required under the law to approve abortions. She claimed that even now women have difficulty obtaining publicly-funded abortions in New Brunswick’s hospitals, and often end up paying $600 to $800 out-of-pocket at Morgentaler’s abortion facility.
“It’s very challenging for women to obtain a government-funded abortion,” she said.