"The nature of access to abortion services in New Brunswick is set out in regulation 84-20 of the Medical Services Payment Act, put in place by the Frank McKenna government in 1989. The regulation lays out the requirements for coverage of abortion under the provincial Medicare program. Women seeking coverage must obtain written approval from two doctors who must determine that an abortion is “medically necessary” before they can make an appointment with a gynecologist at one of two New Brunswick hospitals authorized to perform abortions. It is a race against time to secure these permissions and an appointment for the procedure before the 12th week of gestation. This regulation appears to be modeled on pre-1988 therapeutic abortion committees, which required the approval of multiple doctors for a woman to access a legal abortion – requirements that have no foundation in medicine.
New Brunswick women, many of whom have neither a family doctor, nor the means, information, or support necessary to negotiate these bureaucratic hoops, often find themselves without access to a safe and legal medical service. Young, rural, and poor women are particularly susceptible to these barriers.
Women unable to access services in the province can seek services in other provinces but must pay out of pocket. In contrast to many other provinces, New Brunswick has no reciprocal arrangements with other provinces to cover the procedure.
New Brunswick’s policies are in clear violation of the Canada Health Act, which was created to ensure Canadians receive “reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers” and infringes on women’s s. 7 (security of the person) and s. 15 (equality) Charter rights. So, how is it that these policies have been able to persist? Certainly, the constitutionality of Regulation 84-20 has not gone uncontested."