04/13/2014 13:47 EDT | Updated 06/13/2014 05:59 EDT

Morgentaler clinic closure prompts thousands to sign petition

An online petition to pressure the province of New Brunswick to make abortion choices easier for women has almost tripled since the Morgentaler abortion clinic in Fredericton announced it would close at the end of July.

Kathleen Curtis says the online petition was part of a project for a class in social work at St. Thomas University last month.

Her project had over 3,000 names on it last week. Then on Thursday the Morgentaler clinic announced it would close.

Three days later Curtis says the petition jumped to 8,8000 names.

“With the clinic closing and the petition really going viral and all of these media articles on social media that are circulating right now, it's really brought the matter to be of importance to people of New Brunswick,” she said.

A group that opposes abortions started its own petition in March which has reached 6,200 names.

CBC was unable to reach them for a comment.

Curtis says her petition has caught on as people realized how restrictive the laws are in New Brunswick compared to the rest of Canada.

She says the news the private clinic would close and make abortions harder to get has galvanized public opinion when it comes to reproductive choice.

“Now I think that this petition and the articles that have been circulating from the media lately have really opened people's eyes up to the issue," she said.

New Brunswick is the only province in Canada with a private abortion clinic that isn't funded by medicare. And the clinic, which opened in 1994, is the only private abortion facility east of Montreal.

Health Minister Ted Flemming has issued a statement saying the province has no plans to get involved.