12/19/2014 03:22 EST | Updated 02/18/2015 05:59 EST

New Brunswick to face cost of $500,000 to $700,000 with more abortions

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's health minister says increased access to publicly funded abortions is expected to cost the province between $500,000 and $700,000 more per year.

Victor Boudreau says 900 to 1,100 abortions are performed in New Brunswick annually, but medicare only paid for those done in hospitals by specialists and only after the woman had two doctors say it was medically necessary.

The Health Department says hospitals carried out about 400 abortions each year, while the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, which closed in July, performed more than 600.

The department did not respond to a request for how much was spent on abortions performed in hospitals in previous years.

As of Jan. 1, the Liberal government is lifting the regulation that requires women who are seeking abortions to have them done by a specialist after acquiring the approval of two doctors.

Boudreau says all abortions in the province will be done in hospitals and he doesn't expect a spike in the total number of abortions.

The Opposition Tories have complained that the new regulations haven't been posted, but Boudreau says the government has been clear about the changes and its intention to remove barriers to abortions as of the new year.