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Manitoba's health minister avoids accountability on abortion by punting questions to another ministry

5 48 834
29.03.2019

Manitoba is an outlier among most Canadian provinces. If you ask its health minister, Cameron Friesen, a question about abortion — say, about the abortion drug Mifegymiso — he'll brush you off and tell you to take it up with Status of Women Minister Rochelle Squires. She is the government spokesperson on the file, even though funding for reproductive services comes entirely from the health care budget.

There is little clarity on how these two departments communicate or make decisions. But what is clear is that by deferring to a different ministry, the health minister has convenient cover for refusing to answer questions.

Minister Friesen's predecessor, Kelvin Goertzen, repeatedly declined comment on anything related to reproductive health. Goertzen was criticized for speaking at an anti-abortion rally during his time as health minister (which he defended as a venue for him and his wife to cope with miscarriages), so perhaps there was a deeper reason for him to deflect accountability on reproductive health.

Why does accountability matter? Because current policy on reproductive health – the lack of Mifegymiso access, in particular – perpetuates health care inequality for rural and low income Manitobans, though it is something that the health department........

© CBC