Morgentaler vs. NB: He wins a round but not the battle

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                                             For Immediate Release Aug. 8, 2008 New Brunswick Right to Life is disappointed with the news that Henry Morgentaler has been granted "public-interest standing" to proceed in his lawsuit against the Province of New Brunswick. "Any time Morgentaler wins, unborn babies lose," commented executive director Peter Ryan. In 2003 Morgentaler launched his lawsuit over NB's refusal to fund his private clinic located in Fredericton. Morgentaler alleges Regulation 84-20 of the Medical Services Payment Act violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canada Health Act. New Brunswick is the only province that has a private abortion facility that is not publicly funded. On May 16, 2007 Justice Paula Garnett of the Court of Queen's Bench heard arguments on the issue of standing. Morgentaler applied for the issue to be resolved, despite the fact court rules normally allow only the Defendant (the Province in this case) to raise the issue of standing. At the hearing the Province argued that Morgentaler does not have standing to pursue his legal action. In her August 1, 2008 ruling Judge Garnett said that Morgentaler in this instance "does not have legal capacity" since he is not a woman seeking an abortion. However, she said that since such women were unlikely to bring a legal action themselves, "Dr. Morgentaler is a suitable alternative to do so." She therefore granted him "public interest standing." The trial process will now ensue, unless the Province appeals the Garnett ruling - which NB Right to Life hopes will occur. If a trial gets underway, NB Right to Life will be there to protest the fact that no representatives of the unborn or women harmed by abortion have been allowed to take part. A coalition of pro-life and women's groups was previously denied intervenor status. Ryan believes the Aug. 1 decision may prove "a pyrhhic victory" for Morgentaler. "I have every hope New Brunswickers will never be forced to pay for our province's unborn to be killed on demand at a private clinic. Of course, we need our government to firm. I fully expect they will. Tax-funded abortion on demand is not popular in this province." Contact: Peter Ryan (506) 459-8990 or 1-888-796-9600

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