Cost coverage of abortion pill doesn’t improve rural access

Ultrasound requirement still a barrier for Agassiz, Harrison, Hope

The B.C. government’s recent announcement of universal, no-cost coverage for Mifegymiso – an oral alternative to surgical abortion – has been looked to as an answer for improving access to abortion in rural communities across the country.

The combination of Mifepristone and Misoprostol, currently free in five other Canadian provinces, is used to terminate early pregnancies only –up to nine weeks or 63 days from the last menstrual period.

Most B.C. pharmacies will provide Mifegymiso once it becomes fully cost-covered Jan.15, and will likely order it on an as-needed basis.

But the zero-cost price tag on the pill may remove just one of many barriers facing rural women with unwanted pregnancies.

To get a prescription, patients are required to have an ultrasound to confirm the gestation stage and ensure that an ectopic pregnancy – when a pregnancy occurs outside the uterus – isn’t taking place.

Most rural doctor clinics don’t have ultrasound equipment, so patients will need to travel to the closest hospitals or urban centres where ultrasounds are available. Even then, long wait times can cause delays and ultrasounds at private clinics often come with a fee.

Frédérique Chabot, director of health promotions for Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, says that since the decriminalization of abortion nearly 30 years ago, improving access in rural communities has been one of the biggest struggles.

“Access really varies across Canada and the people who are getting the short end of the stick are definitely people in rural and remote areas,” she said. “To offer a medical abortion is way more accessible for service providers than to set up the services needed for surgical abortion.

“In a rural community you don’t have the same access to a pretty important medical service. And that’s not what our health care system is about. It’s supposed to be universal.”

While Chabot said cost coverage for Mifegymiso is a huge step towards removing multi-tiered access, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights is still advocating to remove the current ultrasound requirement.

“Cost coverage was the first step that we had identified as making the biggest difference,” she said. “[Before] people would have to pay out of pocket – something like $400. We had a pretty major victory with most Health Canada restrictions being taken down, but the mandated ultrasound continues to stand in the way for access in some areas.

“We’re working with a lot of activists and other organizations to continue to chip away at these barriers.”

Just Posted

VIDEO: École Puntledge Park Elementary celebrates winter solstice

The event was a part of the school’s Indigenous education curriculum

Valley company reaching out to women near and far

Three Comox Valley business women know firsthand what good menstrual products can… Continue reading

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Miniature horses visit Glacier View residents

Glacier View Lodge residents had a couple of special visitors on Wednesday… Continue reading

Annual women’s march in Courtenay Saturday

The Women’s March was a worldwide protest on Jan. 21, 2017, to… Continue reading

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

RCMP’s use of force in arrest of Island man not excessive, judge rules

Campbell River man high on cocaine led high speed chase through city’s downtown

Most Read