Vernon, B.C.—After Premier Mike Harcourt and his N.D.P. government of British Columbia struck down the abortion policy of the locally-elected hospital board, the nine pro-life members of the Board resigned. The 16-person board at Vernon’s Jubilee Hospital had voted last June that the hospital would no longer perform abortions.

Elizabeth Cull, the newly appointed Minister of Health, repudiated this policy in March 1992, saying that the government must guarantee the full abortion services.[See front page of Interim.  April 1992. She also assured the province that “the power of hospital boards to deny such services will be ended.”

Many have expressed concern over the government’s hasty action.  UBC political science professor Paul Tenant sees it as a case of province usurping local authority.

Others note that the government has over-ruled a body elected by the community.

The nine pro-life members in Vernon resigned in protest and legal advice indicated that the Order in Council could not be challenged in court.  In addition the hospital doctors had expressed adamant opposition to the Board, making the prospect of civil defiance on the part of the Board unrealistic.