Preventative Care is Critical to Reproductive Health

22 Feb

Six months ago I moved away from New Brunswick, the province that had been my home for thirteen years. I did so with a great deal of relief. Sometimes it is easy to look back with rose -coloured glasses, and I often wonder if it was really such a backwards place, or if I had just exaggerated the conservative, elitist, whiteness of it because I was so unhappy there.

And then, I see something like this.

This is a provincial government page on getting tested for chlamydia (which is absolutely an EPIDEMIC right now, in case you are wondering. Please get tested if you can!). Scroll down to the part about where you should get tested if you are 19 years old or younger and don’t have a health care provider. Now compare that to where it says you can go if you are 20 to 29 and don’t have a health care provider. See the difference?

In New Brunswick, you have to be 19 years old OR YOUNGER to access sexual health centres. Let that sink in for a second.

New Brunswick is a province with a dangerous shortage of family doctors. I would hazard a guess that most people who live in NB don’t have a health care provider. When I lived in Fredericton, the capital city, a government and university town with a population of about 60,000, I had no access to regular sexual health care. As a university student I went to the student health centre. The age limit for the sexual health centres then was 24, so I could go there once I graduated. But when I turned 24, there was nowhere – literally nowhere – I could go to get a pap test. And now that age is 19.


Reproductive health care is a constant battle in New Brunswick. Part of the problem is population decline and the ridiculous solutions politicians try to come up with to fix it: instead of making the province a more inviting place to live and work (by improving job prospects, encouraging immigration, etc.), they think the problem can be solved by making more babies. Seriously. So they crack down on the already shoddy abortion access, refuse to fund any kind of efforts that would lower the teen pregnancy rate, and basically fail, again and again, to see the difference between making people want to stay and giving them no options to get out.

There are about a million things about this new age limit that make me want to scream, but the most frustrating thing is that it is actually discrimination, and there is a Charter challenge to be had here – but the people who are most likely to be negatively effected by the change are the same people with the fewest resources, time, energy and money to take it on. I hope that there is a lot of organizing around this, that the amazing activist community in New Brunswick does not just let this one slide under the radar. But mostly I am just absolutely flabbergasted that a government could sink this low.

Coming on top of the news about the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood in the USA, this just drives home how critical access to preventative care is to sexual and reproductive health. This should be an unquestionable right – and yet, Fredericton lost its only Planned Parenthood just a few years ago, thanks to lack of funds and lack of available doctors. No one is more suprised than I that it could become this bad this quickly. We all need to stand up, fight and protect the healthcare we have now before we lose it altogether.

6 Responses to “Preventative Care is Critical to Reproductive Health”

  1. Philippe Damerval February 22, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    I’m not sure how amenable you are to having people contradict of disagree with you, but needless to say I am quite opposed to everything you appear to stand for. I am incredulous when I read that access to preventative care should be an unquestionable right. Evidently we define the word right differently. I would say that if someone else has to pay for it, it becomes a privilege that holds only as long as that someone has the ability or is willing to pay for it. Examples of rights are liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Free healthcare? It would be nice, but it is no longer a right. As a taxpayer, I am happy to have my tax dollars fund hospitals that provide emergency services to victims of accidents and otherwise sick people for free. I am, however, unwilling to pay for abortions or sexual health services of women who seem to dissociate between actions and consequences. There are far better, more just uses for everyone’s money. You want to be sexually healthy? Don’t do anything sexually risky. Condoms are cheap. Even the pill is cheap. Do as you please, but don’t expect anyone to pay for the consequences of your mistakes.
    No, access to sexual health services is not a right of any kind, it’s a costly privilege. The same goes for education, gainful employment, clean running water, consistent power. All privileges, and all costly. Personally, I prefer to pay for roads, education and gainful employment than for abortions. Politicians are corrupt? Of course, otherwise they wouldn’t want the job. Can you do better? You may claim so, but that’s just empty words.

  2. KushielsMoon February 23, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    ” Even the pill is cheap.”

    I do not know where you get your contraceptives from. But I have never, ever known the pill to be “cheap” except when I got it from Planned Parenthood. I have insurance and birth control pills cost $80 a month. That’s $960 a year. Birth control pills are not “cheap.”

    “There are far better, more just uses for everyone’s money.”
    I cannot think of a more just use for this taxpayer money. Helping women and girls to reach equality is extremely just.

  3. Steph L February 24, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    @Philippe Damerval
    What sheer and flagrant ignorance. Spoken like someone who has had the obvious luxury of never living in a country where abortion is illegal and seen the firsthand consequences.

  4. lyahdan February 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    @Philippe Damerval

    You do realize she’s talking about New Brunswick, CANADA, right? Where they have already decided that health care is something that people deserve access to. The argument here is that apparently there are some sorts of access in some areas that are being restricted in ways that don’t make sense for the health of the people involved.

    As a U.S. citizen, I’d be far, far happier if my tax dollars went to providing health care so people could access preventive care and timely medical care rather than racking up expensive emergency care that we’re paying for already.

    Similarly, until we have better, universal sex ed. in this country, you might want to get off your high horse about how easy and cheap contraception is.

  5. carolynfromcanada February 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Oh God I can’t stand when people whine about their precious tax dollars going to fund people’s healthcare. You want to complain about your taxes aiding illegal wars or the death penalty, good on ya, you should. But if you sincerely object to people getting basic healthcare on “your dime” then you’re a shitty person. Sorry. Just the way I see it. Pap smears prevent CANCER. Untreated STDs can cause infertility and a myriad of other health complications. Unplanned pregnancies can be devastating and potentially life-ruining. Saying “don’t have sex if you can’t deal with the consequences” is like saying don’t get in the car if you don’t want to have an accident. It’s ridiculous. This NB clinics situation makes me furious, I certainly take for granted living in urban southern Ontario where there’s free clinics all over the place with no rules like this.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Preventative Care is Critical to Reproductive Health | Abortion Gang -- Topsy.com - February 22, 2011

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shayna K, The Abortion Gang. The Abortion Gang said: new post: Preventative Care is Critical to Reproductive Health http://j.mp/fktzEI #prochoice [...]

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