The Manitoba government has buckled to pressure after years of standing strong against using taxpayers’ money to fund abortions at private abortuaries.

As of July 1, abortions are being publicly funded at “Jane’s Clinic” in Winnipeg, much to the dismay of pro-life supporters across Canada. Manitoba is joining the ranks of of Newfoundland, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta in fully financeing abortions committed in private facilities.

Maria Slykerman, president of Campaign Life Coalition Manitoba, told The Interim the change from the government was “shocking” because they “weren’t expecting the clinic to be funded.” As soon as word spread about the possibility of funding the private clinic, pro-lifers began circulating petitions. They are now continuing regular pickets outside the abortuary.

Over the past year, Manitoba has discussed the possibility of building a clinic with various “women’s services,” including counseling and committing abortion, which would be covered by the province. It is unclear whether the government will rebuild the clinic to make it a multi-service women’s clinic or keep Jane’s abortuary as it is.

For more than two decades, Henry Morgentaler has fought successive Manitoba governments to receive full taxpayer funding for abortions committed at his abortuary. The Winnipeg abortuary was Morgentaler’s second free-standing abortion facility. In an effort to receive full government funding for abortion, he repeatedly tried different tactics, including selling the facility to the province.

In April, he sold it to 18 women who renamed it “Jane’s Clinic” and who promised to run it as a non-profit organization. They promptly sued the province for full funding. For four years, Health Minister Dave Chomiak adamantly refused Morgentaler’s requests, saying there was enough access to abortion through Manitoba’s hospitals.

Part of the pressure on the government to fund abortions in Morgentaler’s abortuary involved a 2001 lawsuit. Two post-abortive women claimed they suffered “a terrible inconvenience” due to long waiting periods at the hospital, where abortions are available free of charge. They said they were forced to pay $500 for their own abortions at the Morgentaler abortuary.

The timing of the launch of these court cases occurred, coincidently, around the time of Morgentaler resuming his campaign for tax-funded abortions. One woman had her abortion in 2001, while the second had hers in 1994.