Sunday, January 30, 2005

A Woman’s Right to Choose? Choose What?

Manitoba NDP Government to appeal funding for private abortions

Well they say politics makes strange bedfellows and here is a strange case indeed. The Manitoba NDP is being sued for not funding abortions at Dr. Morgentalers clinics, claiming they provide abortions in hospitals and the Morgentaler clinics are private hospitals. And they are being supported by New Brunswick Priemer Lord, a Tory.

Instead of including the Morgetaler clinics in the public health care system like some provinces have done with eye or hip replacement clinics, the stigma of abortion continues to discriminate against women and their health.

And they have the support of the Conservative Preimer of New Brunswick, Bernard Lord, a province that has one hospital willing to do abortions.
"I find it ironic to have the federal health minister telling us we must fund a private abortion clinic while at the same time going across the country against other types of private health clinics," Lord said during a telephone interview.

It is ironic. The fact this is happend on the 17th Anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that made abortion in Canada legal is pathetic. Here we have an NDP government which has a policy on supporting a woman's right to choose taking away that right by claiming that they don't want to go down the road to private health care. Ok ironic and pathetic. But of course whatever the party policy is does not affect them when in government after all they are the State and represent all people even those who didn't vote for them. Meet the new boss same as the old boss.

Well if they fully funded the services in the first place then they wouldn't have to pay Dr. Morgentaler to provide the services. By denying women access to fully funded safe abortions, like Morgentaler provides, is just another way of restricting abortion access through the back door.

The Federal Liberals decry waiting lists and vow to reduce them, well the average waiting list for an abortion in Canada is four to six months. And the provinces will only pay around $150-$200 for each procedure, which are barbaric in most hospitals the old D&C, while at the Morgentaler Clinic a completely safe non hospital stay procedure costs average between $500 and $750.

So why don't they just pay reduce waiting times? Such blatant sexism in health care should be an outrage, but it is quietly swept under the carpet of the debate on healthcare. Why? Pressure from
Catholic and other religious and conservative lobbyists continues to plague our politicians. Another reason to tax the churches and their charity registered lobbying frontgroups .

The Provincial New Democrats should hang their heads in shame, as low as the Provincal Tories in New Brunswick where it is all but impossible to get an abortion. Its time to live up to the Canada Health Act and have full funding for Morgentaler Clinics across Canada. Its not just a matter of choice its a matter of ending discrimination against women's access to fully funded healthservices.

Read on for my articles on this from the summer election.


Manitoba to appeal ruling on funding for private abortions
By MICHELLE MacAFEE
Canadian Press
Friday, January 28, 2005 - Page A5


WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government will appeal a court ruling ordering it to pay for abortions in private clinics to protect its right to decide how health-care dollars are spent, Health Minister Tim Sale said yesterday.

Mr. Sale said the case, which he believes is being closely watched by his colleagues in Alberta and Ontario, reaches far beyond the abortion debate.

It could affect the way governments handle long waiting lists for other procedures, such as hip and knee replacements, he said.

"We can't turn over to individual people the planning of the health-care system, no matter how strongly we might feel about their rights to the procedure."

Associate Chief Justice Jeffrey Oliphant said last month that provisions in the province's Health Services Insurance Act that make women pay for abortions outside public hospitals violate their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Judge Oliphant's written decision also took note of the time constraints many women are under when trying to book an abortion. "There is no reason or logic behind the impugned legislation which prevents women from having access to therapeutic abortions in a timely way," the judge wrote.

The decision cleared the way for a lawsuit by the hundreds of women who had to bear the cost of the procedure.

Two women started the class action against the NDP government in 2001. It is now on hold pending the appeal.

The women said they had no choice but to pay for abortions at the private Morgentaler clinic because the wait for a publicly funded procedure at a hospital was four to eight weeks.

At the time the lawsuit was filed, Manitoba and New Brunswick were the only two provinces that did not fund abortions outside hospitals. Last year, Manitoba began funding the procedure at a not-for-profit clinic in Winnipeg.

Meanwhile yesterday, New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord said his province stands by its policy of not paying for abortions in private clinics, despite pressure from Ottawa to change that position.

Mr. Lord said the province pays for abortions in hospitals, providing they have been deemed medically necessary by two physicians.

He said that is sufficient, and his Conservative government has no intention of covering the costs of the roughly 600 women a year who terminate their pregnancies at the private clinic in Fredericton run by Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh warned the province this week the federal government may put the issue to a dispute resolution process. As well, he said New Brunswick could face financial penalties if it is found to be violating the Canada Health Act.

Mr. Lord pointed out that previous federal health ministers have also threatened action against the province, but they have never followed through on those threats.

It is believed only one hospital in New Brunswick performs abortions. Many women in need of timely access to the service turn to the Morgentaler clinic, where they have to pay the full cost of the procedure. The costs average between $500 and $750.

"I find it ironic to have the federal health minister telling us we must fund a private abortion clinic while at the same time going across the country against other types of private health clinics," Lord said during a telephone interview.

"I don't know why they're so intent on promoting private abortion clinics."

It is believed only one hospital in New Brunswick performs abortions.

Many women in need of timely access to the service turn to the Morgentaler clinic, where they have to pay the full cost of the procedure. The costs average between $500 and $750.

Lord made his comments on abortion while travelling in Texas where he and Manitoba Premier Gary Doer are on a joint trade and investment mission.

Doer, who joined Lord for the call, agreed with the New Brunswick premier that it is difficult for provincial governments to pay for private clinic abortions.

A Manitoba judge ruled recently that a law forcing women to pay for abortions at private clinics is unconstitutional, paving the way for a lawsuit by the hundreds who have had to bear the cost of the procedure.

"We do not support the idea that any procedure can just have a start-up operation and we would therefore have to fund under a private system all of the procedures based on somebody putting up a sign and opening up an operation," Doer said.

"We would lose some degree of control over our health budget."



Comment: Federal Election 2004

When it comes to Abortion, the Liberals and Conservatives Abandon the Majority of Canadians

Abortion Services are privatized in most provinces.

Once again the Liberals are leaning left, in order to win votes.

In this case the announcement by Paul Martin that the Liberal Party would not support changes in Canada's abortion law while Harpers Conservatives would allow a private members bill to outlaw a womans right to an abortion.

The real question here is the right to access medical services, in this case abortion is NOT provided by most provinces in hospitals.

And in most cases the full cost of an abortion in a private clinic run by Dr. Morgentaler is either not covered or only partially covered.

The current situation as it stands is unacceptable for the majority of Canadians.

We need full abortion coverage provided under health care and in public hospitals or day clinics. The current situation is one of private health care being provided by Dr. Morgentaler.

Women in Canada have been left in limbo by the Liberals who have refused to force the public health care providers to provide abortion services.

In Alberta these services are not provided in all hospitals, funds for abortion services are pegged at what hospital rates are and they do not use the Morgentaler method.

We need designated hospitals to do the procedure, using the Morgentaler method fully funded. Why designated, because Catholic Hospitals though publicly funded refuse to provide this service. A public hospital not operated by the Catholic Church must then be designated to provide this service.

The NDP position that they would change the Canada Health Act to prevent private services is perfect for solving this intolerable situation that the majority of Canadians face in not having fair and equal access to public medical services for abortion.

This is something the Conservatives would deny the majority of Canadians and something the Liberals have failed to provide while in office for the past ten years.
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June 2004 published on the Disabilities Web Site, email lists


Privatized Abortion Services is an Election Issue

Letter to Jack Layton, Leader of the NDP
June 2004

Dear Jack;

Once again the Liberals are leaning left, in order to win votes. In this
case the announcement by Paul Martin that the Liberal Party would not
support changes in Canada's abortion law while Harper’s Conservatives would
allow a private members bill to outlaw a woman’s right to an abortion.
The real question here is the right to access medical services, in this
case abortion is NOT provided by most provinces in hospitals. And in most
cases the full cost of an abortion in a private clinic run by Dr.
Morgentaler is either not covered or only partially covered. The current
situation as it stands is unacceptable and you need to say so. We need full
abortion coverage provided under health care and in public hospitals or day
clinics. The current situation is one of private health care being provided
by Dr. Morgentaler, which is unacceptable. Women in Canada have been left
in limbo by the Liberals who have refused to force the public health care
providers to provide abortion services. Your stance that we would change
the Canada Health Act to prevent private services is perfect for solving
this intolerable situation that the majority of Canadians face in not
having fair and equal access to public medical services for abortion.

Eugene Plawiuk
cc. all NDP candidates, and various NDP discussion lists, women’s groups,

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


WOMEN'S RIGHTS AT STAKE IF HARPER WINS: MORGENTALER
http://www.cbc.ca/news/
TORONTO - Canada's leading abortion rights activist waded into the federal election campaign Friday, warning a woman's right to choose could be in "serious danger" under a Conservative government.

In an open letter to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, Dr. Henry Morgentaler said Harper's "evasive answers" on abortion lead him to believe he has a hidden agenda.

Harper has ruled out introducing legislation on the issue, but wouldn't rule out a free vote if a private-member's bill is introduced.

Morgentaler says he's concerned abortions could be re-criminalized if the Conservatives form the next government.

"The Conservative Party is full of members who are anti-choice and it would be quite easy for them, and there will be pressure on Harper, to do something about the abortion law," said Morgentaler.

Conservative MP Rob Merrifield recently said women should seek independent counselling before having an abortion.

Responding Friday at a campaign stop in London, Ont., Harper said he hasn't proposed anything that would limit a woman's right to choose.

But he said he won't limit the rights of backbenchers, either.

Morgentaler also critisized the Liberals, saying they haven't fulfilled a pledge to bring in an abortion law in Canada.

Liberal Leader Paul Martin has said he wouldn't infringe on the basic rights of Canadians.


CONSERVATIVES, LIBERALS ALIKE ON ABORTION: MPS

Jun. 6, 2004. 03:41 PM
By Joan Bryden Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Two veteran Liberal MPs say there is no difference between their party and the Conservatives on abortion, contradicting Paul Martin's claim that there is a "gulf" between the two parties on hot-button moral issues.

Toronto MP Tom Wappel and Sarnia MP Roger Gallaway also say that Liberals are deeply divided over gay rights, with Gallaway going so far as to predict that a free vote on same-sex marriage would be defeated.

"My view is if it were put to the House, which it will be, it won't pass," Gallaway said in an interview. "I think there's enough people opposed to it to knock it down."

Among those opposed to same-sex marriage is Judy Sgro, the cabinet minister sent by Liberal campaign officials last week to heckle Conservative Leader Stephen Harper over his stand on abortion.

Sgro, who supported an Opposition motion last fall reaffirming the traditional definition of marriage, taunted Harper with the question: "Whose rights are you taking away tomorrow?"

The comments from Wappel and Gallaway puncture Martin's attempts to portray the Liberals as defenders of civil liberties and the Conservatives as a regressive party with a hidden agenda to recriminalize abortion and deny gay rights.

Over the past week, Harper has been dogged by questions about his party's stand on sensitive moral issues.

He has said he has no plans to legislate on abortion but would allow backbenchers to bring forward private members' bills on the matter.

Harper has noted that private members' bills, which must go through a tortuous process, rarely make it to the floor of the Commons but said if they managed to get that far, he would allow a free vote.

Martin countered by saying he would "strongly advise" his backbenchers not to propose private members' bills on abortion because they would be contrary to party policy.

However, Wappel, a staunchly pro-life MP, said Harper's comments were merely "a statement of the obvious" about the way private members' business works and Martin would act no differently.

"I don't think too much should be made of the prime minister's comment," said Wappel.

He said private members' business has never been subject to party discipline.

He noted that Martin has vowed to eliminate the democratic deficit to give backbenchers more power and said Martin would not, therefore, roll back the clock by trying to direct the content of private members' business or deny free votes on it.

"I have no fear that private members' business is somehow going to be attempted to be controlled," said Wappel, who once proposed a private members' bill to recognize that life begins at conception — a bill that never came to a vote.

Gallaway, Martin's point man on parliamentary reforms to empower MPs, said Martin is entitled to say he won't encourage private members' bills on abortion "but that's not a prohibition either."

"There's nothing that can prevent a member of the House who's not a cabinet minister from bringing in any private members' bill," Gallaway said.

Wappel suggested Martin simply got caught up in the heat of the campaign when he suggested he'd interfere in private members' bills.

Senior Liberal strategist Scott Reid said Martin will not allow parliamentary opinion to overrule a woman's right to choose, or any other "fundamental charter right."

Martin's position on same-sex marriage also seems to have evolved rapidly over the past week as he strives to turn gay rights as a wedge issue against the Tories.

A devout Roman Catholic, Martin initially admitted he was torn on the issue and was lukewarm in his support for former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's draft legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.

Anxious to avoid turning it into an election issue, Martin delayed a Supreme Court hearing on the matter by asking the top court also to consider the constitutionality of allowing only civil unions for gay couples, the option favoured by Harper.

By the end of last week, Martin suggested that lower courts have already settled the matter and said "there is no way anybody should be allowed to prevent same-sex marriage."

He denounced Harper for refusing to rule out using the notwithstanding clause to override the Charter of Rights and deny gay couples the right to marry.


However, seven of his cabinet ministers — including Sgro and the co-chair of his election campaign, Helene Scherrer — voted last fall against same-sex marriage.

A total of 52 Liberals joined Harper's party in affirming the traditional definition of marriage and another 19 didn't show up for the controversial vote. The motion was defeated by a razor thin vote of 137 to 132.
Harper has said he'd withdraw the reference to the Supreme Court and put the matter to a free vote in Parliament. He has suggested the court would defer to Parliament's decision on the matter but has refused to rule out using the notwithstanding clause if it doesn't.








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