Reproductive Rights and justice

The issue: reproductive rights in canada

Reproductive Justice in Canada

All people in Canada deserve the right to access basic health care. Taking away citizens’ access to abortion is a violation of our reproductive rights. We are currently facing this issue and fighting for your rights in New Brunswick.

Our Work On Reproductive Justice

CCLA has been advocating for reproductive justice for decades, including an intervention alongside Dr. Henry Morgentaler in 1975 – more than a decade before the eventual landmark pro-choice decision of the Supreme Court in 1988.

We have launched a lawsuit against the province of New Brunswick over a regulation that restricts women’s access to abortion unless done in approved hospitals, even though this restriction is not medically necessary or justified.

Sign The Petition: Support Reproductive Rights in Canada

The New Brunswick law creates a serious issue for New Brunswick women, girls and trans people who need access to abortion, a basic form of health care.  

As of January 2021, there are only three approved hospitals in the entire province that perform surgical abortions:

  • one in the small city of Bathurst, NB, that only accepts patients from the Bathurst area
  • two in Moncton, a city of 70,000 people

With those three hospitals in two cities, 90% of New Brunswickers do not have adequate access to abortion services in their community”, explains Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, CCLA’s Equality Director.  

The hospitals also limit when they will provide abortions.

Coupled with wait times, quotas, and travel requirements, this raises very grave access issues for women, girls and trans individuals across the province – in particular those who may be marginalized, dealing with poverty, or domestic violence.  Their rights to liberty, security, privacy and equality must be protected.  

The New Brunswick regulation that restricts access to abortion violates the Canada Health Act and infringes fundamental rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Our recent work on reproductive justice in canada


2020-2021 - Reproductive Justice in Canada

CCLA is grateful for the support and pro bono contribution of our excellent litigation team and their firm: Andrew Bernstein, Gillian Dingle and Emily Sherkey (Torys LLP). CCLA is also grateful to our outstanding advisor Prof. Kerri Froc (UNB Law).

On October 14, 2020 we sent a letter to New Brunswick Premier Higgs and Health Minister Dorothy Shepherd demanding that New Brunswick amend the regulation that restricts access to abortion. We indicated our hope that they would do this willingly, as the regulation is unconstitutional and negatively impacts women’s healthcare in New Brunswick. We told them that if they did not heed our warning, we would commence a lawsuit that would force them to amend it. 

The Government of New Brunswick did not accede to CCLA’s demand, and has not repealed the problematic part of the regulation. On October 29, 2020, we issued formal notice to the office of New Brunswick’s Attorney General, letting them know that we were preparing to commence a lawsuit against the province, and would be asking the court to declare the relevant part of the regulation unconstitutional. We also reminded them of the urgency of providing for access to abortion for women, girls and trans individuals in New Brunswick, and asked them to waive the two-month notice period. 

CCLA, along with many other local and community women’s groups and advocates for reproductive justice in New Brunswick, have demanded that the government fix the problem of lack of access to abortion in the province. They did not. CCLA told NB to do the right thing or we will see them in court. 

CCLA will continue to fight relentlessly for the right of women, girls and trans individuals who need abortions, a basic form of healthcare.

UPDATES about reproductive Rights 

June 1, 2021 – The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has won the first round of its abortion lawsuit in New Brunswick. The New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench has granted the Canadian Civil Liberties Association standing to pursue its reproductive rights challenge against the New Brunswick government.

Read the full press release here (EN). 

Read the full press release here (FR). 

May 17, 2021 – CCLA will be in court on May 17, 2021 on its motion for public interest standing. 

Why does this matter? “Abortion is a basic and private healthcare matter that no one should have to disclose publicly. It is more sensitive than most forms of healthcare because of the intense stigma (and worse) imposed on women, girls and trans individuals who seek an abortion. As a national human rights organization, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has a direct interest alongside women, girls, and trans individuals, in ensuring that the province obey its obligations under the Charter, the New Brunswick Human Rights Act and the Canada Health Act.” – Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Director, Equality Program. Read the full press release here.

February 12, 2021 – CCLA filed its Notice of Motion for Public Interest Standing

January 6, 2021 – The Canadian Civil Liberties Association launched a lawsuit against the province of New Brunswick over a regulation that restricts women’s access to abortion. The Statement of Claim that was submitted to the court (not yet issued) shows that the regulation violates the Canada Health Act and the rights to liberty, security, privacy and equality under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.