February 3, 2020
We Need a Law, a national campaign advocating for legal restrictions on abortion, released a position paper this month evaluating the impact of the Canada Health Act on the funding of abortion clinics.
“The Canada Health Act has no legal bearing on health care spending, and is commonly misrepresented by activists, and now even federal party leaders, so we felt it was necessary to present the facts in a concise way,” said Tabitha Ewert, Legal Counsel for We Need a Law. Calls have been made for the federal government to intervene in New Brunswick to save a failing abortion clinic, but such federal interference would be against the spirit of the Canada Health Act and a violation of the constitutional division of responsibilities between provinces and Parliament.
“The Canada Health Act was created as a vehicle for the federal government to assist province’s with health care costs, while still respecting that provincial governments are in the best position to address the health care needs of their residents,” explained Ewert. Provinces are required to fund “medically necessary” services, but these services are not listed or defined by the Canada Health Act. “This was a deliberate omission,” Ewert added, “The Canada Health Act was designed not to dictate to the provinces what they should or should not fund, but to start a conversation that still respects provincial jurisdiction.”
There are many medically necessary services that are not covered by public funding, such as dentistry, psychiatry, and optometry. A publicly funded health care system was never intended to cover everything. There is no reason abortion should be given special consideration. “The question abortion activists need to answer is clear,” said Ewert. “Why should private abortion clinics be funded over other services such as mental health care? Abortion is never medically necessary, and certainly not in a private, for-profit setting.”
The Justin Trudeau government has refrained from commenting on the situation in New Brunswick, but NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party leader Elizabeth May have called for him to pressure the New Brunswick premier to fund a struggling private abortion clinic in the province. “Clearly this isn’t health care that New Brunswickers want or need to pay for,” concluded Ewert. “There is no need to prioritize this private clinic at the expense of other heath needs. We hope that Premier Higgs and the federal government will let this business close their doors for good.”
The full position paper can be accessed online here.
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