Denying health care to pregnant refugees

20 Jun

I have been largely in a fog for the last few days, preparing for impending childbirth and parenthood. But I just wanted to take a minute to register my absolute revulsion and horror at the fact that the Canadian government is in the midst of cutting off health benefits to refugees.

Today is World Refugee Day. It’s also the day that Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced the changes being made to health care for refugees. The decision to cut off refugees from “non-essential” care was rammed through as part of the government’s omnibus budget bill. According to the updates I’ve been seeing on Twitter, the government is going to declare some countries to be “safe” and some to be “unsafe.” If a traumatized refugee is unlucky enough to be fleeing a “safe” country, he or she will be denied the majority of health care benefits. This includes prenatal care and the cost of delivering babies.

Imagine that you are a refugee fleeing terror, oppression or an abusive spouse. You are likely to be a survivor of rape. You may not speak English or French. What would you do if you could not receive health care during your pregnancy or afford the cost of delivery?

According to Dr. Tatiana Freire-Lizama, one refugee woman already asked her to induce labour a month early, because she knew that she would not be able to handle the cost of the delivery after July 1st. These are the kinds of decisions that this government is forcing women refugees to make. I appalled.


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