Bioethics Blogs

Privileging Infertility over Abortion in New Brunswick

Rachael Johnstone questions New Brunswick’s infertility Special Assistance Fund in light of its abortion policy.

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Following in the footsteps of Ontario and Quebec, New Brunswick Health Minister Ted Flemming recently announced the government’s $1 million commitment to establish a fund to offset the cost of in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination procedures for infertile couples. New Brunswickers who qualify are eligible for a one-time grant of $5,000, or 50% of the cost associated with their treatment, whichever is less. No policy outlining the nature of acceptable treatments (for instance, the number of embryos that can be implanted) has accompanied this announcement.

This move could be seen as expanding the reproductive choice of individuals struggling with infertility. However, when evaluated in the context of the provincial government’s failure to repeal a highly controversial regulation that creates significant barriers to abortion access, it suggests a troubling view of women and their reproductive rights.

Legislative Assembly, Fredericton, New Brunswick

Legislative Assembly, Fredericton, New Brunswick

In many respects, New Brunswick’s policy is similar to Ontario’s. Ontario announced plans to launch a program in 2015 to cover some of the costs of one single-embryo IVF cycle, excluding drugs. In contrast, Quebec’s provisions are much more substantial. The first province to provide coverage for IVF in 2010, Quebec now provides coverage for 3 to 6 IVF attempts, including drugs. One of Quebec’s rationales offered was to help boost the population, while Ontario cited a desire to lower the healthcare costs associated with multiple births. The motivations of the New Brunswick government have not been made explicit, beyond a desire to “alleviate the financial burden of those dealing with infertility,” a burden which can be prohibitively expensive.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.