Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another Roadblock for Abortion in New Brunswick

Bad news in New Brunswick: remember way back in 2008, when an anonymous doctor filed a complaint with the NB Human Rights Commission about how the abortion policy in New Brunswick discriminated against her female patients? Apparently the HRC handed that case off (somewhat bizarrely) to the Labour and Employment Board - a development I wasn't even aware of - and they decided that while the doctor couldn't bring a complaint on behalf of her patients, there was merit in having an inquiry into the accessibility of abortion in the province.

So of course the provincial government saw the wheels of justice turning a little too quickly and last week the Court of Queen's Bench ruled there wasn't enough evidence to conduct such an inquiry, and hey, back off Labour and Employment Board, why can't you be a little more useless like the HRC? And believe me, an inquiry is just about the height of usefulness in New Brunswick politics.

This is a frustrating decision for a number of reasons. First, it is unclear to me why the HRC would think this had more to do with labour and employment than with human rights, as it is clearly about the right of the patients to access abortion, with the doctor simply acting on their behalf when filing the complaint. They should have heard the case and not foisted it off on the LEB - is the HRC afraid of controversy? Isn't that their whole thing - human rights?

Secondly, I am curious as to why the LEB felt the doctor couldn't bring this complaint; surely when it went in front of Labour and Employment it was about the doctor's ability to refer patients being threatened? Anyway, while an inquiry is the bare minimum of solutions, at least it would have pushed the issue further into the public eye.

Which brings us to the most frustrating aspect: that there is no moving forward on this issue in New Brunswick without at least some cooperation from the provincial government, as they have every possible legal route to justice at their disposal. Could it be that the only way forward is the election of a progressive government in New Brunswick? Could this ever even happen?

No comments: