Paul Tuns:

A Fredericton abortuary is closing after years of pressing for full funding at the private facility. It ended without convincing either Liberal or Progressive Conservative governments to pay for abortions done at the province’s only free-standing abortion mill.

Campaign Life Coalition declared it “great news” that Clinic 554 was finally closing its doors for good after repeatedly threatening to shut down if full funding was not extended to it. Premier Blaine Higgs, like his predecessors going back to Liberal premier Frank McKenna 1994, has refused to fund the site, which formerly was run by abortionist Henry Morgentaler before briefly closing following in 2014. In 2015, it was reopened as Clinic 554.

In 2020, Clinic 554 and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association sued the provincial government for full funding and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has punitively cut back health care transfers to the New Brunswick provincial government because it would not fund abortions committed outside hospital settings.

The previous year, Clinic 554 medical director Dr. Adrian Edgar said he was ready to close down his practice, which also provided “gender-affirming care,” to gender confused individuals. Edgar had committed abortions for free for women who could not afford to pay, but cut back his baby-killing service to one day a week.

Edgar made the announcement wearing a medical-grade face mask outside the legislature, accompanied by Green Party leader David Coon, who vowed to fund abortions outside hospitals if his party formed government. (The Liberals and NDP have also stated they will change regulations to fund surgical abortions done in free-standing abortion mills.)

Edgar said about closing the facility, “We are most concerned about patients for whom travel or a medication abortion is not an option due to financial reasons, mental health or addictions reasons, disability, age, financial or housing precarity, legal status or freedom of movement and personal security.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Health said that the Higgs government stood behind the long-standing policy of only funding surgical abortions in hospitals, while noting that most abortions in the province are now done by the abortion pill.

Since the 1990s, CLC has repeatedly requested its supporters in the province to encourage the governments of the day to resist pressure from abortion activists and the federal government to rescind its policy of only funding abortions committed in hospitals.

CLC Atlantic coordinator Ruth Robert welcomed the news of the closure, saying, “Hundreds of babies’ lives will be saved from death with the closure of this murder house.”

Campaign Life Coalition president Jeff Gunnarson in a statement. “This is great news for preborn babies and their moms in New Brunswick.”

Gunnarson said many pro-lifers in the region answered CLC’s call for volunteers to pray and fast at the location during last fall’s 40 Days for Life campaign. “This is the fruit of that faithful, prayerful activism,” Gunnarson told The Interim.

Robert said that local pro-lifers “hoped this campaign would be the final push to shut down the abortion mill for good.” Robert said 40 Days for Life outside Clinic 554 was run by a former CLC summer intern, Sarah Grace, “who was worried that there would not be enough pro-life people to run the around-the-clock campaign.” But the campaign was a success with many volunteers taking extra time slots and attracting some from as many as four hours away.

Robert said, “God has truly blessed the sacrifices of His devoted faithful. It all begins with one person stepping out in faith, and saying ‘Yes’ to God.”

Gunnarson said he is pleased the abortion mill is closed but noted that taxpayer-funded abortions still take place in three New Brunswick hospitals — two in Moncton and one in Bathurst. The province also continues to provide to women free-of-charge the abortion drug Mifegymiso.

New Brunswick Right to Life runs the Women’s Care Centre next to Clinic 554, offering free ultrasounds, counseling, and pregnancy tests to women. It is not immediately clear what the centre plans to do.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association indicated that it will continue challenging New Brunswick regulations that prohibit surgical abortions outside of hospitals. Andrew Bernstein, Gillian Gingle, and Alex Bogach of Torys LLP are representing the CCLA pro bono in the challenge.