FREDERICTON, NB, Nov. 6, 2008 – The New Brunswick government is appealing a recent court ruling that gave Dr. Henry Morgentaler the right to challenge restrictions on funding for abortions in the province. The attorney general’s office has filed a notice of appeal of a court ruling that granted Morgentaler public-interest standing to represent women in the lawsuit against the province.
The notice of appeal maintains that Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Paulette Garnett erred in her Aug. 1 decision. Specifically, the province argues that Garnett wrongly determined that public-interest standing is different from the legal capacity required in the Rules of Court.
It also suggests the judge was wrong in deciding that the question before her was whether or not the court would exercise its own discretion in allowing Morgentaler to proceed as a plaintiff and in determining if there was a loophole in relevant legislation.
Morgentaler is suing in an effort to force the provincial government to pay for abortions at his clinic in Fredericton. The province has refused to do so. New Brunswick is the only province in Canada that doesn’t fund abortions at private clinics. Hundreds of women pay out of their own pockets for procedures at Morgentaler’s clinic in Fredericton. The cost is reported to be between $550 and $750, depending on how far along a woman is in her pregnancy.
Garnett ruled Morgentaler could represent a public interest with the lawsuit since women who have had, or could get, procedures done at the Fredericton clinic wouldn’t or couldn’t mount such a legal challenge.
Peter Ryan, executive director of New Brunswick Right to Life, applauded the province Nov. 6 for appealing the decision. “This is good news,” he said in a statement. “There is no reason not to appeal.” The pro-life activist said that abortion is an elective procedure, arguing there’s no legal obligation for government to fund it.
Copyright (c) 2008 The Canadian Press
The Catholic Civil Rights League noted that this case is yet another reason why Henry Morgentaler’s appointment to the Order of Canada is inappropriate. Legal sanctions have traditionally disqualified candidates from the Order. The role of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada in chairing the Advisory Committee is also problematic if a candidate is has ongoing involvement in a court case that could eventually be before the Supreme Court. For information about the League’s activities in protesting this appointment: Court asked to review honours process; League comments on presentation to Morgentaler.
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