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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Okanagan real estate market adjusting to ‘new normal’

Numbers are up in March; however, industry insiders say the market has cooled

Serious assault leaves Osoyoos woman in critical condition: RCMP

A 60-year-old Osoyoos woman suffers life threatening injuries following assault inside home

Not all receive COVID-19 aid from federal government

Summerland woman does not qualify for federal assistance during COVID-19 pandemic

Pair of Penticton Vees forwards eye NHL Entry Draft

Danny Weight and Ryan McGuire included in Central Scouting’s final draft rankings

Law enforcement will patrol shuttered campgrounds in Cascades this weekend

Patrols will enforce provincial order requiring all such facilities remain closed during COVID-19

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

Public warned to stay away from algae bloom near Herald Park in Shuswap Lake

Interior Health states that people, pets should not drink the water in the area or touch the algae

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

South Shuswap residents criticize upgrades to Balmoral Road/Highway 1 intersection

Reliance on frontage roads and narrow underpasses near Blind Bay not good enough

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

COVID-19: No more international flights at Kelowna International Airport

All international flights at YLW have been suspended, airport to operate just nine flights a day

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

Most Read