In an interview with Radio-Canada, the Premier of New Brunswick, Blaine Higgs, openly stated that he is anti-choice. This statement goes against a right that’s been established in Canada since 1988: the right of women and gender minorities to freely choose what to do with their bodies and to decide, regardless of the situation, if and when they want to become parents.
“It is frightening that our premier, who is responsible for the well-being and interests of the population, would declare himself anti-choice,” said Monique Brideau, President of the Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick (RFNB). “This is an unprecedented attack on gender equality. We already knew that this government had little regard for women and gender minorities, and this is the proof.”
“Denying the fundamental right of women and gender minorities to decide what to do with their bodies, to the point of putting their lives at risk, is not being pro-life,” adds Julie Gillet, the group’s executive director. “It’s anti-abortion, anti-choice. It’s putting personal beliefs ahead of the well-being of people, with no respect for the legislative advances of the last 50 years.”
Despite the fact that the right to abortion is protected by Canadian jurisprudence, access to it remains largely unequal across Canada. In New Brunswick, there are many barriers, as demonstrated in this image, which shows all the communities that are more than two hours away from one of the three access points in the province. Furthermore, transportation is only one of the barriers faced by those seeking abortions.
This statement by Higgs makes clear what we could only guess at: his personal “pro-life” beliefs directly influence his ability to govern and to make the best decisions for the people he serves. His refusal to hear from multiple human rights organizations on the issue of sexual and reproductive rights is not based on economic arguments, as he has previously claimed, but on an ideology of restricting the rights of women and gender minorities to control their own bodies.
As for remarks by the Minister of Health, Dorothy Shephard, they also demonstrate a profound lack of understanding, if not a total disregard, for the health and well-being of the population. No, it is not normal to have to drive hours to receive health care, whether it is knee surgery or an abortion. This clumsy comparison once again highlights the flaws in our health-care system and how they disproportionately affect the most vulnerable.
For detailed information on barriers to abortion in New Brunswick, visit our website.
The RFNB is an inclusive feminist organization that works for a radical rethinking of society by supporting struggles against all forms of oppression. It engages in political action, informs the general public and mobilizes its members around feminist issues. The RFNB defends and promotes the rights and interests of all francophone women and gender minorities in New Brunswick.