Opposition Leader Bruch Fitch needs to be called out, not only for the contempt of women shown in his reaction to the removal of political hurdles to abortion services, but for his lack of leadership – nay his deliberate feeding of the propaganda machine – on this divisive issue.
On the day the provincial government announced the coming changes in access to abortion, Mr. Fitch said “Does that mean you’ll have the ability of having an abortion in the eighth month of pregnancy?”
He could have said he did not agree with the change in policy and with abortion. He could have argued for the status quo. He could have recognized the consensus for change evident in the provincial election result. He could have chosen to set a tone of respectful disagreement and reasoned argument.
Instead he chose to feed misinformation and prejudice. What he is alluding to? Where are such abortions in the eighth month performed?
Can he justify playing to that gallery instead of acting like a community leader?
Will he next raise the other outlandish lies that come from the same propaganda factory, such as that “real” rape victims don’t become pregnant, that abortion endangers women’s health or fertility?
When New Brunswick deals with other divisive issues, is this going to be the level of his contribution? On bilingualism, will he take up the Bilingual today, French tomorrow rant of the haters? On sexual assault, will he remind us that women are known to lie about these things?
His position requires him to show respect and leadership towards problem solving. As an elected leader, he is not supposed to get in bed with extremists. Our elected officials must ensure respect of citizens’ rights — even those rights and those citizens they do not like – but Bruce Fitch wants to be paid as an elected official and ensure certain rights are never enforced in New Brunswick.
Has he given thought to how the political hurdles to obtaining an abortion, which are part of his status quo, contribute to delaying abortions – never anywhere close to the eighth month, but to the limits of third or fourth month? Women look for options soon after they realize they are pregnant and don’t want to be. You can look it up.
I don’t think Bruce Fitch believes that New Brunswick women have been agitating for eighth-month abortions. He just used that suggestion to fan prejudice and misrepresent the issue that New Brunswick is dealing with. That is not worthy of a leader because it is demagoguery – that’s what the Twitter world called it and it fits Fitch’s comment perfectly. I looked it up. Demagogues hurt communities.
On a related topic, some media went out looking for how much treating abortion like other insured medical services was going to cost. The government said the cost will be less than $700,000 per year. I suggest costing should take into account many other items. The costs related to giving birth. The savings from having general physicians perform the abortions, instead of requiring that specialists do them. The cost of not having a strategy to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The cost of New Brunswick pharmacists choosing to keep Plan B, the emergency contraception or “morning-after” pill, behind the counter, instead of on pharmacy shelves, which Health Canada allows. The cost of not facilitating non-surgical abortions like in the United Kingdom, France and Scandinavian countries, where most abortions are done using medication. And if we must talk of savings and costs, what about the opportunity costs of our high rate of births to teenage girls? What about the health and other costs – now and over the span of a lifetime – when girls and women have children they were not ready for?