‘Right thing to do’

New Brunswick premier com­mits to fund­ing abor­tion pills

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC - BY BRETT BUNDALE

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gal­lant is stop­ping short of call­ing on his pro­vin­cial coun­ter­parts to of­fer abor­tion pills for free, but he says it’s “the right thing to do.”

Af­ter years of re­strict­ing ac­cess to abor­tion ser­vices, New Brunswick be­came the first prov­ince to pro­vide uni­ver­sal cov­er­age of the abor­tion pill Mif­e­gymiso ear­lier this month.

“We be­lieve ac­cess to es­sen­tial med­i­cal ser­vices shouldn’t de­pend on a per­son’s postal code or in­come bracket,” Gal­lant said in an in­ter­view Tues­day be­fore he ad­dressed a so-called “shadow event” of the Coun­cil of the Fed­er­a­tion, a meet­ing of pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial lead­ers in Ed­mon­ton, Alta., about abor­tion ac­cess in Canada.

Gal­lant said Mif­e­gymiso, a two-drug com­bi­na­tion that in­duces a med­i­cal abor­tion, will help im­prove women’s ac­cess to re­pro­duc­tive health care, es­pe­cially in ru­ral re­gions far from hos­pi­tals that per­form sur­gi­cal abor­tions.

“Not ev­ery re­gion has the same type of ac­cess,” he said. “Mif­e­gymiso is an op­por­tu­nity to help with ge­o­graph­i­cal ac­cess.”

Gal­lant said his gov­ern­ment has been work­ing hard over the last two and a half years to ad­vance women’s equal­ity and re­pro­duc­tive health care.

“We’ve pulled New Brunswick into the 21st cen­tury by get­ting rid of the two-doc­tor rule and other bar­ri­ers to re­pro­duc­tive health, but there is still more to do,” he said.

“It’s all about ad­vanc­ing women’s equal­ity, not only be­cause it’s the right thing to do, but be­cause stud­ies show that it helps strengthen your econ­omy and ad­vance im­por­tant is­sues like ed­u­ca­tion and health care.”

The two-step abor­tion pills come at a cost of about $300 to $450. While New Brunswick is the only prov­ince that cur­rently funds the pills, Al­berta, Que­bec and On­tario have also in­di­cated they will make med­i­cal abor­tions avail­able to women free of charge.

Gal­lant was set to give open­ing re­marks at the event en­ti­tled “Abor­tion Ac­cess in Canada: The Pol­i­tics of Mif­e­gymiso.” The event in­cluded a panel with Al­berta Health Min­is­ter Sarah Hoff­man and a dis­cus­sion about re­mov­ing ex­ist­ing bar­ri­ers to med­i­cal abor­tion in Canada.

CP PHOTO/JA­SON FRAN­SON

Al­berta Premier Rachel Not­ley and New Brunswick Premier Brian Gal­lant speak at a press con­fer­ence dur­ing the Coun­cil of Fed­er­a­tion meet­ings in Ed­mon­ton on Tues­day.

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