Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Business of Morgentaler

It will be virtually impossible to take a look into the effects of the loss of the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton NB without wading into the Pro Choice / Pro Life debate, but I hope that I can stand as clear of this debate as possible and suggest a more solution focused approach to this situation.

Yes, I am Pro Choice, so that is out of the way. Do I carry pickets, or preach my believes at social gatherings - nope. I am Pro Choice, and one of the choices of my belief is that I chose not to try to influence or simply care of what others position on abortion is. As personal as the decisions are around abortion, my reasons, my justification (so to speak) are just as personal. Kinda wish both side of the debate had this philosophy.

OK - nuff on that.

With the recent closure of the only abortion clinic in Atlantic Canada we are now in a bit of a dilemma. Abortion is legal, and if deemed medically necessary by TWO physicians - abortion is available in the safety of state of the art medical institutes and paid for by our Medicare system. Previous to the closure, Abortions were available at Morgentaler's Private Clinic for $700 - $850 (depending how far along the pregnancy is)

Aside from the moral endless debates - this seemed a pretty good solution. Non approving taxpayers were not burdened with financing non-medical related abortions, and medically necessary (with approval checks by 2 doctors), were treated like any other necessary medical procedure and paid for from public coffers.

I suggest that a out of pocket cost of up to $850 was a pretty solid deterrent for being completely oblivious to the chance of unwanted pregnancies - a box of condoms, or other forms of birth control comparably are a much cheaper and less uncomfortable option. But, for those cases that a pregnancy is unexpected or unwanted, the cost was not beyond reach for young couples, but would certainly be a financial punishment for being irresponsible.

I will not address the availability of the 2 doctor approved medical availability of abortions as that has checks and balances and is unchanged before and after the closure of the Morgentaler Clinic.

So where are we now? The only option for private abortions is a trip to Montreal - which now upsets the balance of reasonable financial pain, to encourage responsible birth control. It now becomes so cost prohibitive that several unsavoury consequences may be in the works. Self administered abortions are not unheard of for desperate couples, desperation for finding the money to now afford a trip to Montreal that could run well beyond the financial means of young couples. Or (yes this is debatable) the fact that couples will have babies that they do not want, and are not mentally, financially or mature enough to raise. Yes, Adoption is an option.. that unfortunately looks much better on paper than actually applies in real life - but I will leave that for another article some day.

My interest in this situation is one of economics.. a service that is legal, and required, is artificially overpriced by the now cost of travel.. that is will have significant ripple effects on the health and well being of young couples. So what is the solution??

Clearly the clinic was not financially viable to remain in business (like any other business), so how can that be resolved? An interesting business challenge.. not a simple supply and demand as it is so influenced by others that do not agree with the service, it is not a luxury that can simply find a price that the business can exist profitably, as there are couples entire lives at stake.

In situations that a (health and wellness) product or service must exist at such a high cost to maintain the providing business, our socialist (small "s") government typically steps in to make it available to all levels of financial status. But, and I respect the Pro Lifers on this, they do not want their tax dollars spent on providing a services that they are so morally opposed to.

Yet to add to the challenge, to reduce cost to to patients, again, supply demand would require a higher volume of business, which, whatever side of the fence you stand on this debate - is not a positive option.

As far as I can determine, (and I look forward to being corrected) - a clinic with a reasonable priced service, must be subsidized by an outside investor. Which should not be the government, It would required a clear understanding of the required, reasonable profit margins to operate this clinic, determine the shortfall of revenue based on historical traffic - and find funding to augment the shortfall.

Maybe the Pro Choice group would be better served by organizing and fulfilling this financial shortfall to make safe abortions available, and spend less time screaming at Pro Lifers and attending rallies. As Pro Lifer's make lots of noise - Pro Choicer's can quietly go about their business of raising money, and making local couples indeed have a choice.