The incoming New Brunswick Liberal government will bring about some much-needed changes. There are indications that the new premier, Brian Gallant, will remove barriers to abortion. Such a move is long overdue. The closing of the Morgentaler Clinic in July brought the issue to a head. Pressures mounted to make much-needed policy alterations; but the Alward regime held firmly to the status quo, as had all his predecessors, both Progressive Conservative and Liberal, for a quarter century.
The medieval mantra, a regulation brought in 25 years ago by Frank McKenna, requires that a woman obtain the approval of two doctors to receive a medically funded abortion. This legislative maneuver was morally against the spirit of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and out of line with most other Canadian jurisdictions. Gallant’s stance has undoubtedly been helped by national Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
Federal MPs may have their private convictions, but on this issue, Liberal parliamentarians are expected to support a woman’s right to choose. It is a practice New Brunswick’s Liberals would do well to emulate. However, in New Brunswick, eliminating the misogynist regulation does not require a vote of the legislature: it can be repealed by cabinet.
Hopefully, whether by cabinet or legislature, the change will come very soon.
Eldon Hay, Mount Allison Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies