OTTAWA, February 27, 2006 – The Catholic Civil Rights League ( today commented on the Supreme Court of Canada’s refusal to hear an appeal by two Manitoba women who want the province to pay for abortions outside public hospitals. As is customary, the SCC did not give its reasons for refusing leave to appeal.
The women started a class-action lawsuit against the NDP government in 2001. They claim they had no choice but to pay for abortions at the private Morgentaler clinic because the wait for a publicly funded procedure at a hospital was as much as eight weeks. A Court of Queen’s Bench justice ruled in December 2004 that provisions in Manitoba’s Health Services Insurance Act that make women pay for abortions outside public hospitals violate their charter rights. However, a provincial court ruling last fall overturned that decision.

At the time, League President Phil Horgan commented: “While it’s 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,”
The province now funds the procedure at the province’s one not-for-profit clinic, but the 2004 ruling would have opened the door for thousands of women who had had private clinic abortions in the province to seek reimbursement. The province’s appeal was based on provincial rights to decide how health-care dollars are spent, and the implications for how governments handle long waiting lists for other procedures.

Polls consistently show that most Canadians favour some restrictions on abortion, and on public funding of the procedure. Court cases such as this, and that involving the Morgentaler clinics in New Brunswick, could be a step in restoring some respect for life in Canada, which since 1988 has been the only western country with no abortion law whatsoever.
About CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League ( 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;