The government of Nova Scotia joins the rest of Canada in offering free abortion pills to women who require it. They will also no longer require a doctor’s referral to book a surgical abortion at the Termination of Pregnancy Unit (TPU), Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. In the next few months, the Nova Scotia Health Authority will also be setting up a phone line so women can call and make appointments.
Nova Scotia was the only province to require a doctor’s referral for a surgical abortion.
Very slowly, provinces throughout Canada have pledge to publicly fund Mifegymiso, an abortion pill that will terminate pregnancy up to 49 days from the start of a woman’s last menstrual period. Mifegymiso is a combination of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, and is considered an easy and safe alternative to surgery.
A prescription from a doctor will still be required to get Mifegymiso from the pharmacy. The doctor must do an ultrasound to determine if there are any health risks; however, those women will be given “same day and urgent care” access to an ultrasound, meaning they don’t have to wait a few weeks in order to perform the tests.
The drug itself can cost up to $350, making it a significant barrier for women. That’s why universal coverage of the Mifegymiso is such an important development — no longer should women have to wait until they are eight weeks pregnant to get a surgical abortion. They now have much more control over their reproductive rights.
“We’re supporting more choice for women when it comes to their reproductive health,” said Kelly Regan, Minister responsible for the Status of Women, said in a statement. “This will ensure all Nova Scotia women have access to this option.”
The government estimates the cost of covering Mifegymiso will be between $175,000 and $200,000 per year; although women will be encouraged to use private insurance coverage first.
Alberta announced their intention to cover Mifegymiso in July, with Ontario following suit in August.
The last barrier to women’s control over their reproductive rights is free access to birth control.