TORONTO, Ont., Oct. 12, 2005 The Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) today welcomed the recent decision of the Manitoba Court of Appeal to overturn an earlier ruling requiring the province to pay for abortions performed in private clinics in that province.
While its unfortunate that the appeal ruling was substantially based on the principles of summary judgment rather than on the issue of abortion funding, we welcome any ruling recognizing that abortion is not something the taxpayer is automatically required to pay for through public health plans, said CCRL President Philip Horgan.
In a ruling last December in the case of Jane Doe et al v. Manitoba, Court of Queen’s Bench Associate Chief Justice Jeffrey Oliphant ruled in a summary judgment that provisions in the provinces Health Services Insurance Act that require women to pay for abortions outside of public hospitals violate their rights under the charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The ruling awarded costs to the two plaintiffs and opened the door for thousands of others who had had private clinic abortions in the province to have their costs paid by the province. The two women who brought the case had paid for abortions at a Morgentaler clinic in Winnipeg rather than face delays in the public system, claiming such delay would cause physical and mental stress. They were suing the government for their costs.
Last week, however, the appeal court ruled that the issues involved in the case were too complex for a summary judgment, and that Justice Oliphant should therefore have allowed the case to go to trial where expert testimony on both sides could have been heard.
“The Charter issues in this case are complex and involve developing areas of law, with important policy implications,” wrote Justice Barbara Hamilton. “Where the law is developing, a full trial record is often important.”
It is now up to the women where the case goes from here. Their options include seeking leave to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada, or proceeding to trial.
At present, the Manitoba government, through the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, will pay for abortions at Winnipegs one abortion clinic, which has become a non-profit since the Jane Doe case began, but does not fund private, for-profit clinics.
It is bewildering that the federal and provincial governments take steps to discourage the private delivery of health care services, and yet continue to turn a blind eye to the funding
of abortions in private and/or for-profit clinics across the country, said Mr. Horgan. Physician and facility fees for private clinic abortions are completely covered in Ontario and Newfoundland, while physician fees are covered in BC, Quebec and Alberta. Other provinces either have no private abortion clinics, or provide no funding for them.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org