POLITICS

N.B. Premier Brian Gallant: Time Needed For More Abortion Access

01/08/2015 01:52 EST | Updated 03/10/2015 05:59 EDT
CP
FREDERICTON - It will take some time before hospitals in New Brunswick are ready to perform more abortions, despite regulatory changes made last week to open access to the procedure for women, Premier Brian Gallant said Thursday.

The two provincial health authorities need more time provide added levels of service, Gallant said.

"I think both health authorities have made it clear that they are open to looking at what they have to do to ensure the capacity is there," he told a news conference.

The controversy over access to abortions heightened in the province when the Morgentaler clinic in Fredericton closed last summer. The private clinic was doing more than 600 abortions a year, while the Health Department says about 400 were being done at two hospitals in Moncton and Bathurst.

Before Jan. 1, medicare would only pay for abortions done by specialists in those hospitals, and only after two doctors deemed the procedure as medically necessary.

The hospitals in Moncton and Bathurst that provide abortions are part of the francophone health authority known as Vitalite.

Gallant said both hospitals are bilingual and it is not unusual that certain procedures are only available at some hospitals.

"It will be the same case here when it comes to reproductive health services," Gallant said.

The Horizon Health Network says it is developing plans to provide access to abortions and hopes to offer the service in April.

"Since this service was not previously offered by Horizon, issues such as space, staffing, protocols and identifying physicians to provide the service are currently being addressed," John McGarry, president of the Horizon Health Network, says in a statement.

Jessi Taylor of Reproductive Justice NB said she can't understand why it is taking so long.

"The equipment and procedure is the same as if someone was having a miscarriage. I really hope that if someone was having a miscarriage they would not be asked to wait until April," Taylor said.

The health authorities need to offer the procedure in hospitals that won't require people to travel too far, she said.

"We should be able to access health care in our own communities," Taylor said.

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In Photos: Brian Gallant