As US tightens abortion regulations, Canada makes abortion more accessible


The Canadian province New Brunswick will soon offer an abortion pill for free. / Photo courtesy (cc) 2006 Alex Indigo

The Canadian province New Brunswick announced last week that it would start providing the abortion pill Mifegymiso—typically valued at $300—to women in the province for free.

The move is an effort by the Canadian health department to reduce financial barriers to abortion and to make abortion more accessible for women who live in rural parts and cannot make the trip to clinics. Surgical abortions are already covered under the provincial health plan.

“By making Mifegymiso available free of charge for all New Brunswick women, our government is ensuring that financial barriers do not stand in the way of a woman’s right to choose,” Health Minister Victor Boudreau said.

This moves stands in stark contrast to how American states have taken to regulating abortions in their jurisdictions. Instead of making it more accessible, it seems conservative U.S. lawmakers have tried to implement every barrier imaginable—especially for low-income women. These include but are not limited to: mandatory waiting periods, mandatory counseling and required ultrasound viewings.

Coverage for abortion varies across provinces, but the Canada Health Act generally covers the cost of abortion for Canadian citizens, with some clinics implementing their own additional fees.

Meanwhile in the United States, Medicaid—which provides health insurance for those under the poverty line—cannot be used to pay for abortion. Yet every day, conservative Republican lawmakers and evangelical activists fight to “Defund Planned Parenthood”—which, in practice, would really look like stripping funds for cancer screenings and tests and treatments for sexually-transmitted infections including HIV.

It’s worth noting that as American state governments do everything in their power to put up obstacles for women trying to exercise their constitutional right to choose, the Canadian government has gone in the opposite direction, doing everything in its power to make sure women can practice that right if they choose to do so.


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