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Ontario government covers the cost of abortion pill

Jen Doede | Interrobang | News | August 28th, 2017

As of Aug. 10, woman across Ontario have been able to obtain the abortion pill for free with a prescription from a doctor or nurse at select pharmacies.

Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of the Status of Woman and the Minister Responsible for Early Years and Child Care, who on behalf of Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minster of Health and Long-Term Care, announced on Aug. 3 that the two requirements to receive the abortion pill include a prescription from a doctor or nurse practitioner, as well as a valid health card, according to the government of Ontario news release.

“We continue to make important progress helping women across Ontario gain access to the health care they need,” Naidoo-Harris said in the news release. “The commitment to publicly funding Mifegymiso means women across Ontario will have fair and equal access to safe abortion without payment, judgment or exception.”

Darrah Teitel, the public affairs officer for Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, confirmed that prior to the provincial government's announcement, woman in Ontario had to pay $300 to $400 for the drug, which was a struggle for some individuals to afford.

According to the news release, Mifegymiso, also known as the abortion pill, is a combination of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. When ingested, the pill is used to end an early pregnancy.

It took Canada about 10 years to approve the drug, Teitel said.

“Mifegymiso is a drug that has been used safely in over 30 countries around the world for many decades,” Teitel said.

In Canada, the drug is approved for a gestational limit of the first seven weeks into a pregnancy, Teitel said.

“I think that this is an incredible step forward,” said Allison Preyde, the public education co-ordinator at Anova, formerly known as the Women's Community House with the Sexual Assault Centre London (SACL). “It gives people more choices. As a feminist agency, we support removing barriers so that people can access the reproductive health care that fits their life and needs.”

Marie-Claire Bissonnette, a spokesperson for the Campaign Life Coalition, said in an e-mail interview, that her organization, along with thousands of other tax payers across the province, are opposed to paying taxes for the abortion pill. “[We] firmly believe that we should not be forced into funding the killing of innocent lives,” Bissonnette said.

According to Bissonnette, studies have shown that Mifegymiso can be dangerous to women, such as a particular study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011.

“Thousands of women have experienced adverse side effects and several have died from it. Having the government provide this drug for free as an easier alternative to surgical abortions (which is often not the case) gives women a false sense of security,” Bissonnette said.

According to CBC News Toronto, both the provinces of Alberta and New Brunswick cover the cost of Mifegymiso and the Quebec government plans to start coving the cost of the drug this fall.

“The good thing about Mifegymiso is that it can be prescribed by any physician, any general practitioner, or nurse practitioner in Ontario and they can dispense the drug easily through a pharmacy. People can get abortions where they otherwise wouldn't be able to get them in remote and rural areas,” said Teitel.

According to Teitel, there are currently no Mifegymiso prescribers in London.
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