A slightly modified version of this text was published by the N.B. Telegraph-Journal on July 28, 2014.
The subject is abortion but the most important thing has little to do with abortion.
New Brunswickers learned in June that the popular information service of the provincial Department of Health, Tele-care (811), has a policy to direct to NB Right to Life anyone who doesn’t have a family doctor and is seeking an abortion.
Call me naïve, but I thought the Dracula effect – shedding light on evil – would end it. But they are still doing that, I had occasion to call them recently.
Tele-care does not direct these women to walk-in clinics, nor to the government’s own sexual health centers, nor to the registry for persons without a family doctor that Tele-care maintains for the government, nor to the two hospitals which perform some abortions. Tele-care directs them instead to that faith-inspired organisation dedicated to the idea that you will not have an abortion, and ready to tell you whatever it takes to stop you. It would be less dishonest if Tele-Care simply told those women that they cannot have an abortion and so, here is the number to contact to give up your baby for adoption.
I don’t think we appreciate the importance of this policy of deceit – the breach of trust between citizen and government, and between health professional and patient. If a government can set aside its sacred duty to serve all objectively, in order to advance a biased view, showing contempt for rights, especially our right to be able to depend on government information, well sir, then this is a race to the bottom: Be … fundamentalist … in this place.
Is this a cost-saving measure? If you give garbage information when someone asks you a question, they won’t come back. Is it righteousness gone wrong? Is it bullying? It is for a fact disrespectful, discriminatory and irresponsible.
I know this case involves only women who are looking for an abortion, and that it is acceptable and easy to bully or put down these particular women. The public harassment in front of clinics and hospitals (and in hospitals) where they go for the service is organized, systematic and well tolerated here.
It’s only these women, but still. Tele-care is failing in its responsibility. Hello, Dial-a-prayer. You have rheumatism? Try a few prayers to Saint James, or here’s the number of a faith healer. You’re anemic and may need a transfusion? Here’s the number for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Should battered women expect to be told they need to be in contact with men’s rights organizations to see their point of view? You’re calling to report you didn’t get service in French? Here’s the number for the Anglo Society – work it out.
And what about those “registered nurses” responsible for Tele-care who answer patients’ requests for help. What about that code of ethics? What does the profession have to say about having to read a political script? You have a health question? Here’s political propaganda. You want a health procedure? Here’s a number for a political-religious procedure.
A government ordering health professionals to wilfully mislead citizens …
Just thought we should note our passage to a state one degree closer to fundamentalist rule.