On Thursday, August 27, Free Local Independent Perspectives (FLIP) Saint John hosted a public rally at the Rothesay Commons to demand abortion access and LGBTQIA+ funding.
Good turnout, including political candidates
From 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., FLIP Saint John speakers and volunteers shared stories and spoke on the damage that would occur if Clinic 554 closed. The turnout was quite large, with around 40 participants, and almost every person who attended wore a mask and had signs.
Of these participants, five local Green candidates were present, as were four local NDPs and several Liberals.
FLIP Saint John’s goal is to raise awareness
FLIP Saint John is a local grassroots activist group dedicated to eradicating the root causes of injustice in areas of high economic, social, medical, and mental issues, with the main goal of making Saint John one of the most progressive cities in Canada.
Apart from this rally, FLIP is looking for people to share their stories detailing the barriers they have faced while trying to gain access to abortion and LGBTQIA+ medical services. They hope to raise awareness of the limited access New Brunswick has to services such as these.
Clinic 554 and N.B. Regulation 84-20a
The Government of New Brunswick is in violation of the Canada Health Act by refusing to fund medically necessary healthcare procedures in a clinic setting. Currently in New Brunswick, there are only two options for abortion access in a hospital: Moncton or Bathurst.
Premier Blaine Higgs refuses to remove Regulation 84-20a, which neglects Medicare funding for abortions outside of a hospital setting.
This means New Brunswickers may lose Clinic 554, a clinic that also provides services for people with addictions, pregnancy, and thousands of other patients who use this clinic as a family doctor. Over 12,000 people have signed the petition created to repeal Regulation 84-20a.
Candidates speak out on importance of clinic
Caitlin Grogan, a local NDP candidate for Quispamsis and UNB alumna, has frequently spoken in support of Clinic 554. When asked for a statement regarding the rally and possible closure, Grogan said “Clinic 554 provides essential healthcare services for women and LGBTQ+ folks that are at risk due to the government’s refusal to repeal regulation 84-20. On top of being an abortion provider, Clinic 554 provides specialized LGBTQ+ services, such as gender-affirming therapy. It is the only clinic in the province that provides those services. While the clinic is in Fredericton, folks travel from all over the province to access these services. We need to save Clinic 554, and expand the services they offer.”
FLIP Saint John did not respond when asked for a statement regarding the rally.