What Do the New Abortion Regulations Mean for New Brunswick?

Editor's Note: Any views expressed herein are the interviewee's own, and not a reflection of Her Campus and/or Her Campus Media LLC.

Women seeking abortions in New Brunswick will no longer have to spend extra money to make a trip across the border or to another province in Canada for the procedure.

Premier Brian Gallant made an announcement late last month stating that effective January 1st, the restriction 84-20 made for abortions will be lifted. For the past two decades, the 84-20 regulation was in place that states that a woman seeking an abortion first needed two family doctors to deem the abortion medically necessary. Now, you only need one. Also, the procedures will now be preformed in the hospital instead of a private abortion clinic. In addition, the procedure can now be preformed by non-specialists.

Earlier this year, a group of social work students from here at STU launched a petition that asked the province to fund services at Fredericton’s local private abortion clinic. The members Kathleen Curtis, Vanessa Cormier, Allison Mee and Marina Opacic first launched their online petition in early March. The petition received over 20,000 signatures from people from New Brunswick, and around the world. With the help of this petition, Brian Gallant was persuaded in making the decision of lifting the restrictions; but is that enough?

One of the members of the social work group who first helped launch the petition, Kathleen Curtis, says it is not.

“I think that it is a step forward, and in the right direction; however, individuals having experience in clinics vs. hospitals, clearly indicates that clinics are the best practice as they promote a safe, non-judgemental environment that is easily accessible.”

Kathleen believes that having a private clinic is a much safer environment for women because it gives them the peace of mind where they will not be judged or criticised by other people in the hospital for having the procedure done. She believed that it is crucial for women having abortions, especially since a lot of younger women are the majority of the ones that are seeking the service.

They initially began the petition to make people become aware of how women in New Brunswick need the availability of the abortion clinic for their safety and well-being. When Kathleen and the rest of the group first made the petition, they did not expect it to have such an affect on the issue of abortion.

“When I created the petition, it was simply for a class project, and I was hoping to raise awareness on the issue itself, and attempt to break some of the stigma attached to having an abortion.”

Kathleen also believes that at the time it was not fair for women in New Brunswick to not have the resources easily available like women in other provinces of Canada did. Vanessa Cormier, another member of the group, also felt in the beginning that they were not going to make much of a difference on the issue.

“We made the petition for a social action class as part of our social work program. I don't think any of us expected the huge impact we had on women's reproductive rights in the province.”

Both women express how they feel great to see how their petition grew and truly affected and influenced Premier Gallant towards repealing the regulation.

“It was really great to see that our role in creating the petition and using social media to get our message to the public significantly contributed to Gallant’s decision to repeal 84-20,” said Kathleen.

Kathleen said that she feels that although Premier Gallant did lift the regulation, he may not go any further than that for political reasons. She believes that Gallant will not give pro-choice activists what they want, which is publicly funded reproductive health clinics. In the end, she guesses that the Premier will try to meet both pro-choice and pro-life groups in the middle for politically driven purposes.

“It is awesome that Premier Gallant claims to be pro-choice; however, where he is in position of power, and is representing the women of NB, at the end of the day, he really needs to do what is right.”

Although they feel that it is amazing how the 84-20 regulation is being lifted and abortion procedures will become more accessible, they believe that New Brunswick still has a long way to go before they can become equal to or surpass the other provinces in Canada. Vanessa does not know where this new development will potentially lead New Brunswick.

“…Right now New Brunswick is at the same place that many other provinces were in the ‘80s. I can only hope that we will continue to make changes to be on the same page as the rest of the country.”