There are many things a woman choosing to terminate a pregnancy will likely consider, and even worry about.
In rural communities like Princeton, until just recently, those concerns would have included locating an abortion provider, making an appointment, arranging travel and possibly accommodations, missing time from work or school and fears surrounding privacy. In some cases it might have meant financial hardship.
Last week the province announced a significant improvement in women’s health care – the abortion drug Mifegymiso will be available at no cost, in pharmacies, requiring just a prescription by a doctor or nurse practitioner.
The decision makes it easier for women to make choices about their health. It is a positive move that will result in abortion being safer, less expensive, and easier to access.
There are eight abortion clinics in BC, four in the Lower Mainland, one each in Victoria and Kelowna, and two in the Kootenays.
A woman living a rural area, who has neither car nor bus fare, is unlikely to use one.
Also, while clinic abortions can be obtained without a doctor’s referral, the wait time for an appointment can be up to three weeks. Some of the clinics offer only surgical – as opposed to medical (drug induced) – abortions.
Thirty of the province’s more than 100 hospitals also perform abortions – they are required by law to offer the procedure – however there is no public list of facilities.
Last year Interior Health provided The Spotlight with the following statement about local access to abortion:
“Abortions are a core health service funded by the province, and as such, Interior Health has a medical responsibility to provide service and ensure that patients who make this choice have reasonable access to the service.
While we make this service available, we do not disclose where this service is provided including naming hospitals. This is in keeping with requirements under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and protects individuals’ right to privacy and the safety and security of staff and patients. Anyone who is seeking information about abortion is encouraged to speak to their health care provider.”
In other words, while an abortion has not been illegal, it has been somewhat difficult and complicated to obtain, especially for women living outside large centers.
Mifegymiso will be available, for free, beginning January 15, 2018.
It can be used in the first nine weeks of pregnancy, in the comfort of a patient’s own home.
Mifegymiso will allow women to terminate a pregnancy earlier, which is safer, and gives them the option to avoid surgery.
This gives women more choices, and that is a very good thing. – AD