Manitobans will be paying for more abortions as soon as the NDP government decides how.

Warren Preece, press secretary to cabinet, says the health ministry is “mulling over” options provided to it by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority which suggested late last spring, three means by which all abortions performed in the province could be funded through medicare.

The WRHA administers all health care dollars in the city, one of two in Manitoba where abortions are performed in public facilities. Winnipeg’s Health Science Centre does about 3,000 abortions annually at public expense and the Morgentaler abortuary does another 400 or so, for which it bills women $300 to $400.

The NDP is philosophically opposed to private clinics and paid millions to buy the Pan Am Sports Clinic a few years ago. At the time, Preece says, buying the local Morgentaler Clinic was discussed and rejected earlier this year. However, that is now one of three choices suggested in a memo to the health ministry by WRHA director of public affairs, Terry Goertzen, reports the Winnipeg Sun’s Tom Brodbeck. The other two are: expanding the HSC to accommodate additional operations or funding a new initiative through the Women’s Health Centre.

No one from the WRHA or Women’s Health Centre would comment on the options or any details, such as cost estimates.

Preece says there is “no time line” connected to the project and could not indicate if anything would be ready for the 2002 provincial budget.

“The Morgentaler contention is there’s a waiting list that’s too long. Our stance is that what’s now being done (in public facilities) is timely and safe”, Preece says. When asked what is driving the policy, he said, “The NDP is pro-choice.”

Maria Slykerman, president of Campaign Life Coalition Manitoba, told The Interim that her organization is opposed to all three suggestions because no matter what the province decides to do, it will mean more abortions and more taxpayer money going to pay for them.

CLC Manitoba is currently distributing cards for residents to mail to their provincial representatives encouraging them to oppose any expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion services. “Right now all they are doing is talking,” she said. “We hope it will stay just that: talk.”