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Saturday, September 18, 2021

O’Toole says New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs assured him there’s abortion access

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FREDERICTON — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs has assured him women in his province can access abortion despite refusing to pay for the procedure at a clinic in its capital.

Before calling the election set for Sept. 20, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau opted to hold back about $140,000 of New Brunswick’s allotted federal health transfer money, slamming the province for not funding abortion services at a specific clinic and saying it was making it difficult to access such procedures.

The facility at the centre of the fight is Clinic 554 in Fredericton, the city where O’Toole was making a campaign stop.

The province prohibits funding for abortions outside of three approved hospitals which are located in Moncton and Bathurst.

Days before the election was called, the Liberal government pledged $366,000 toward research to study abortion access in New Brunswick in hopes that would allow advocates to make the case for why a clinic is needed in the provincial capital.

O’Toole didn’t answer when asked whether a Conservative government would withhold transfer payments to penalize provinces that don’t fund abortion services, only saying he raised the issue with Higgs, who told him there is already access.

“When I was here in New Brunswick over a month ago, I spoke to Premier Higgs about ensuring that access is there, and he assured me it is and will be,” he said on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 28, 2021.

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