In Nova Scotia, Henry Morgentaler is trying again to get the government to pay facility fees of $425 per procedure at his abortion franchise on McCully Street in Halifax. The provincial practice is to pay only the doctor’s fee. At less than $140 each, Nova Scotia’s total payout for the 134 abortions performed in 1999 was about $18,500.

The remainder of Morgentaler’s charges (the $425 facility fees) became the responsibility of the women, his customers. The federal government deemed this contrary to the Canada Health Act and penalized Nova Scotia by deducting $57,000 from the customary transfer of funds.

The government of Nova Scotia never did welcome Morgentaler’s presence, and would pay him nothing if not forced to by the federal government. Nevertheless, on a CBC radio phone-in, his supporters argued passionately, “If the province supports the doctor doing abortions, it must consider abortion a necessary procedure. Therefore (it should cover) the facility fee.” Their indignation exceeded their logic.

As usual, Morgentaler argues that Nova Scotia is violating the Canada Health Act. Morris Green, a communications officer for the provincial Department of Health, reminded CBC listeners that interpretations and applications of the CHA are always being negotiated, an activity that health ministers from across the country were involved in at that very moment.

“Our government is against private health clinics. We want to be able to choose the ways to spend our health dollars. We favour the public system, and are willing to absorb the penalty for doing so,” said Green.