New Brunswick’s only clinic offering abortions outside of hospitals and family care practice Clinic 554 has closed its doors to most of its patients. The New Brunswick Medical Society now says this loss will create a gap in health-care services.
© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kevin Bissett
Clinic 554 in Fredericton, N.B., is shown on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. The only medical clinic offering abortions in New Brunswick announced its impending closure last week, blaming a provincial policy that refuses to fund surgical abortions outside a hospital. Advocates say rural Canadians across the country face barriers accessing abortions but a small number of clinics and strained healthcare systems make the issue especially pronounced in Atlantic provinces. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kevin Bissett
The clinic ended most care on Sept. 30, but some publicly-funded services are still offered to a few vulnerable patients with complex care.
“I am still seeing some people,” said Clinic 554 owner Dr. Adrian Edgar.
While he hopes to expand his practice again, Edgar says New Brunswick’s new Health Minister Dorothy Shephard has yet to return his calls.
Re-opening “would save the health-care system time, space, money,” Edgar told Global News on Saturday.
Read more: Security removes tents from protesters during vigil for Clinic 554 at N.B. legislature
With the closure of Clinic 554, New Brunswickers lost more than just an abortion clinic.
“The province of New Brunswick has well over 35,000 orphan patients right now who are looking for family doctors and certainly the closure of Clinic 554 is going to add to that list,” Dr. said Chris Goodyear, the new N.B. Medical Society president.
The practice also provided transgender health care and prided itself in being LGBTQ2I+ friendly.
But it constantly faced financial ruin due to lack of funding from the provincial government.
In New Brunswick, abortions are only offered in three locations: two hospitals in Moncton and one hospital in Bathurst, as previous N.B. governments have not repealed a regulation banning the funding of abortions outside of hospitals.
Higgs has also received criticism from the federal government on the Canada Health Act.
Ottawa had actually reduced the Canada Health Transfer to New Brunswick by $140,216, as a result of patient charges for abortion services provided outside of hospitals in 2017.
“I think it’s very clear that there is an obstruction of health-care services in New Brunswick,” Edgar said.
Goodyear says losing the clinic will create a gap in health-care services, and that the Medical Society is still advocating for preservation of the clinic.
“Certainly the closure of the clinic does not mean that our efforts are going to be halted, at all,” said Goodyear.
“We would invite the Premier to sit down with the concerned doctors, the Medical Society and RHAs to have this discussion,” he said.
Read more: 36 senators sign letter in support of Clinic 554
Earlier this week, 36 senators from across Canada released a statement in support of Clinic 554, and Edgar said two out-of-province physicians reached out to him with offers