Interim Special

British Columbia pro-lifers described as “frightening” a move by the provincial health ministry to exclude right to life supporters from community and regional health boards.

In a March 13 announcement, health minister Joy MacPhail said the province has “weeded out” pro-life supporters from such boards. She said that in order to be eligible for the health boards, members must support the government’s position on the health care services, including wide open access to abortion.

Officials with the Pro-Life Society of B.C. and Campaign Life Coalition (B.C.) say the move shows a frightening disregard for the democratic process.

“Joy MacPhail has disenfranchised a large segment of the population with her pronouncement, by basically declaring anyone with pro-life views to be ‘an enemy of the people,’ and not welcome in government,” said a statement by the two pro-life organizations.

To bypass pro-life input, the government will appoint members of the 45 councils rather than hold local elections. In addition to disenfranchising pro-life supporters, the move concentrates control of health care services with the provincial government and away from the local level.

John Hof, president of Campaign Life Coalition of British Columbia, told the Vancouver Sun that the government’s action shows disdain for local input.

Pro-lifers in B.C. say the health minister has declared it is proper to discriminate against those holding different viewpoints to that of the government. They believe the province is interested only in the views of its own supporters.

“We challenge this government to make all positions on regional and community health boards to be 100 per cent democratically elected,” said Ted Gerk of the Pro-Life Society. “We are not afraid to take these issues to our local communities. It is the NDP who cowers at the thought of being answerable to the local community.”

Pro-life supporters had previously held about 100 positions on community health boards. At times, the pro-life majority would block provincial efforts to introduce abortion services at some hospitals.

B.C. pro-lifers are fearful that this effort to weed out certain elements from health care could be extended to the other areas of public service, including the judiciary and the medical profession.

Pro-lifers plan to launch a series of complaints with both the Office of the Ombudsman and the B.C. Human Rights Commission, citing the government for discrimination.