Women’s Colleges in Manitoba are struggling to meet demand as a result of the government’s new policy to ban abortions after 20 weeks.
The NDP government is proposing changes to the province’s maternity and parental leave rules that would make it harder for women to get pregnant and potentially end up at a clinic or hospital.
The NDP government has already announced it will move to make abortions illegal in Manitoba by 20 weeks, but it has not announced what changes it will make to the provincial maternity and paternal leave rules.
The policy was announced in a statement issued Friday by Education Minister David Eby.
The policy would mean women would be able to return to work earlier than they were previously, which could impact their ability to make the transition to childbearing.
“It will require women to return more frequently than they would previously,” Eby said.
“We expect that to lead to fewer abortions.”
The province also plans to make abortion clinics more difficult to find.
That includes increasing their hours of operation.
The government is also putting restrictions on how long a woman can stay at home if she has a medical emergency.
The Manitoba government says the new policy will protect the health and safety of women and families.
“Our goal is to make sure that every woman in Manitoba can be able, when they are ready to make that decision, to have access to the care and support they need to make this decision,” Echols said.
Echols also said the government is working to make it easier for women in rural communities to access services, including free or low-cost birth control, free or discounted mental health and substance abuse services.
The government says it is also working to expand the number of community health clinics.
It’s not just women’s colleges that are struggling, however.
Manitoba has had two provincial-level nurse-managed hospitals in the past year.
The Manitoba Medical Association said the hospital closures have affected the lives of its members.
“This is a devastating blow for women and their families,” MMA president Jennifer Schmitz said in a news release.
“If this policy is implemented, we will see the end of the first and only nurse-manual-managed hospital in Manitoba.”
Schmitz says that could mean more nursing home visits for women, which is also a major concern for those who work in nursing homes.
“We are seeing women leaving nursing homes with their babies in tow, because they are just not able to do so anymore,” she said.
The MMA says the hospitals closures have also forced doctors to look elsewhere for care.
“There is a lot of pressure for doctors to go out into the community to see their patients and see what’s going on,” Schmits said.
In 2016, the province announced a pilot project to develop a network of nurse-maintained, community-based, nurse-to-patient ratios that would provide care to women with a family-related illness.
But the MMA said those ratios were already too low and the number in need of care has increased.
The province is still waiting for the results of that study.