New Brunswick has let a large portion of its citizens down once again, forcing the closure of Fredericton’s only safe space to practice safe abortions outside of hospitals, Clinic 554. Though the news is devastating it comes to the surprise of very few. In 2019, Dr. Adrian Edgar, the clinic’s medical director, was forced to shut down the clinic originally due to the lack of funding and support from the government. Though the decision was hard, Dr. Edgar was left with no choice as the Higgs government ruled out the possibility of having abortions covered under Medicare, leaving citizens of one of Canada’s poorest provinces to have to pay for the procedure out-of-pocket.


Out of sheer kindness, Dr. Edgar kept the clinic open one day a week, performing procedures pro-bono. But as of Wednesday, January 31, 2024, Dr. Edgar announced that they will have to unfortunately shut down the clinic for good due to the financial strain. The cost of free surgeries and ever-increasing rent cited as the prime factors.


During a protest against the closure of Clinic 554, Dr. Edgar stated:


“Because Clinic 554 never turned a patient away, regardless of their financial, citizenship or Medicare status, and now, without reliable access to an affordable and suitable space to provide this level of care, we can no longer continue to do so and New Brunswickers find themselves without out of hospital abortion care for the first time in 30 years.”


This is devastating news as the only available options for the citizens of Fredericton are in-hospital abortions or medication-induced abortions. Though they may sound like reasonable fallbacks, they come with their own myriad of issues. The biggest issue when it comes to in-hospital abortions are the wait times. Many supporters of Clinic 554 have claimed that when trying to schedule the procedure at one of the approved hospitals, they are met with wait times of 4-8 weeks. If that is the case, it poses a threat according to the American Pregnancy Association as most pregnancies aren’t even detected until weeks 4-7. That being said, legal abortions may only be provided up until the 13th week and 6th day of pregnancy, meaning that timing is of the utmost importance.


The issue with medication-induced abortion has much more to do with mental health, as taking the abortion pill “Mifegymiso” will induce a miscarriage-like experience. This experience for many is uncomfortable and runs the risk of creating both mental and physical trauma.


Between surgical abortions and medication-induced abortions, the choice is now a much more difficult one to make. Not only do citizens have to consider the experience, but they also must consider accessibility. Surgical abortions are only paid for by Medicare at the two hospitals in Moncton and at Chaleur Hospital in Bathurst. No other hospital in New Brunswick offers the service, leaving those without adequate access to income or transportation in danger of losing their ability to choose what’s best for them.

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