Newfoundl and pro-life community is outraged that the province will provide full funding for abortions at Henry Morgentaler’s St. John’s clinic.

In response to federal government pressure to fully insure what it deems a medically necessary service, the Newfoundland health ministry said in January that it would cover the total cost of abortion at the Morgentaler abortuary. In the past, the Newfoundland health insurance program paid only the cost of doctors’ fees at Morgentaler’s abortion facility. Clients were required to pay an additional $400-$600 to make up the difference. But abortion clinic supporters appealed to the provincial government with hardship stories of Newfoundland women paying for abortions with income tax refunds and student loans.

Bad spending

Lorraine Cole, director of the Right to Life Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, described the decision as a serious misuse of public tax dollars, especially with the provincial health ministry’s efforts to maintain services in times of fiscal restraint.

(The province) backs up its decision by saying the decision will actually save our province money, Cole said in a statement. “What they fail to tell you is that the economic toll of abortion is disastrous to our economy. Abortion is costing Newfoundlanders and Canadians billions of

dollars annually.” Other pro-life voices in Newfoundland are equally indignant.

Archbishop James MacDonald of the St. John’s Roman Catholic archdiocese, said the province is now the largest provider of abortion services in Newfoundland.

The people of Newfoundland are being forced to pay for these services from their taxes, Archbishop MacDonald said. The government provides no alternatives and thus women do not have a choice.

The archbishop also termed abortion poverty of thought.

Margaret Hynes, the newly appointed leader of Campaign Life Coalition Newfoundland, said the abortion funding decision has bewildered Newfoundlanders, many of whom are suffering from declines in the fishing and shipyard industries. She added that the move has little support among Newfoundlanders.

In some ways, this abortion funding decision could be a blessing in disguise, Hynes said. The move to provide full funding of abortion has already triggered a tremendous backlash in Newfoundland. A number of people have spoken out against it.

Hynes has taken a leading role in circulating a petition aimed at overturning the funding decision. The petition calls on the government to divert health care funding dollars to more urgent areas of need.

Taxpayers in this province protest and raise objection toward the full funding of an elective procedure, the petition reads. Real and urgent health care issues in this province, such as cardiology, renal disease,

cancer detection and treatment require priority over inappropriate, elective procedures.

Hynes and Cole presented the petition to the Newfoundland government on May 14.

Initial resistance

The Morgentaler abortuary in St. Johns received no tax support for its first five years of operation. By 1995, Canada’s federal health ministry announced that provinces refusing to cover the full cost of abortion services would see an equivalent amount deducted from federal transfer payments. The Newfoundland government initially resisted the federal pressure and as a result lost up to $11,000 each month in transfer payments. By December of last year, however, Premier Brian Tobin and provincial Health Minister Joan Marie Aylward announced they were prepared to pick up the entire cost of abortion at the Morgentaler clinic.

Pro-life leaders in Atlantic Canada, who have noted a steady traffic in abortion at Morgentaler franchises in Halifax and Fredericton, will now monitor the situation in St. Johns. They are concerned that with the full funding decision, St. Johns could rival Halifax as the abortion capital of Atlantic Canada.