Abortion pill: With prescription and health card, Ontario women will be able to get the drug free, starting next week

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Women in Ontario will be able to get free access to an abortion pill with a prescription starting Aug. 10.

Women with a valid prescription and health card will be able to get the pill, called Mifegymiso, at pharmacies at no cost, the Health Ministry announced Thursday.

The announcement came after years of requests for the drug to be made available this way by a group called Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, said Darah Teitel, the group’s public affairs officer. “Today, abortion access in Ontario got a lot easier.”

The drug has been used around the world for about 30 years and has been dubbed the gold standard of medication for abortion by the World Health Organization, Teitel said.

Before, users had to pay $300 to $400 for the drug, which became a barrier for many, Teitel said.

Now, OHIP will be covering the drug as if it were an actual abortion procedure. “It’s remarkably effective and very safe,” said Teitel.

She said the pill will open up the option of abortion to people in rural areas, as surgical abortions usually are available only in urban parts of Canada.

AnnaLise Trudell, the manager of education, training and research at Anova — a centre for support and shelter for survivors of sexual and domestic violence in London — said the pill being made available this way will give many people a choice when it comes to abortion.

“I think this is a huge step forward and I couldn’t emphasize this enough,” Trudell said.

An individual looking to use the abortion pill first must see a physician or nurse who can prescribe it. Then, with a health card, they can go to any pharmacy that supplies the pill to pick it up.

In Canada, Mifegymiso can only be used up to seven weeks from the start of gestation. It differs from the morning-after pill because it is able to terminate a pregnancy while the other prevents a pregnancy and is only effective shortly after an individual has intercourse.

Alberta and New Brunswick also cover Mifegymiso and Quebec has committed to doing the same.

Teitel said the next step will be to loosen some Health Canada restrictions. In other countries, it can be used for as long as 10 weeks after conception and in New Zealand and Australia, individuals can get it prescribed over the phone.

“Increasing choices supports women’s human rights, their right to bodily autonomy and their right to health,” Teitel said. “And that has a tremendous benefit.”


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