‘Right thing to do’
New Brunswick premier commits to funding abortion pills
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.
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.