By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

FREDERICTON, NB, August 19, 2009 ( – The New Brunswick government has revealed that it will not pursue a further appeal to the Supreme Court to prevent abortionist Henry Morgentaler from suing the province to pay for abortions at his Fredericton abortion mill.

In May, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal dismissed the province's appeal of a Court of Queen's Bench ruling that gave Morgentaler status to pursue a lawsuit on behalf of women claiming the province should pay for abortions in his private facility.

“The decision to grant public interest standing to Dr. Morgentaler was made in the exercise of a judicial discretion,” Court of Appeal Chief Justice Ernest Drapeau wrote in his decision, referring to the Court of Queen's Bench ruling.

Following Justice Drapeau's decision, New Brunswick Justice Minister T. J. Burke said the province would consider an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“Our office will review the procedural decision made by the court of appeal to determine possible or overriding errors in law and determine whether or not we should appeal,” Burke said.

Justice Minister Burke said that appealing to the Supreme Court on behalf of the taxpayers of New Brunswick, which is the only Canadian province that does not pay for abortions in private facilities, would be based on a procedural challenge dealing with Morgentaler's legal standing, but does not deal with the central issue of public funding of abortion.

In a press release Tuesday, Health Minister Mary Schryer announced that the province will accept the appeal court's decision that Morgentaler has legal standing to sue the province over abortion funding, but noted that the province's position on refusing to fund private clinic abortions has not changed.

“The New Brunswick Court of Appeal decision concerned a procedural matter, namely the issue of standing, not the merits of the case,” Schryer said in the statement. “The legal case will continue to move forward. The position of the Province of New Brunswick has not changed in respect to this issue.”

“Our government respects the court process and respects the decision of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal,” Schryer said. “As the larger legal matter remains before the courts, I will not make further comments.”

New Brunswick Right to Life Association vice-president, Thaddee Renault, said he was disappointed that no appeal would be filed but was confident that the province's firm stand against abortion funding would withstand the court challenge.

“The case is still not over,” Renault said. “It will still be debated.”

See previous LSN coverage:

New Brunswick Considers Appeal over Public Funding for Morgentaler Abortion Facility

New Brunswick Court Today Hears Appeal against Abortionist Morgentaler

New Brunswick to Appeal Ruling Favorable to Morgentaler

Morgentaler Granted Legal “Standing” to Pursue Lawsuit against New Brunswick

Morgentaler Sues New Brunswick over Extra Billing for Abortion


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