there’s the matter of PEI. In that province, there are still no abortion clinics whatsoever; women who want to obtain a surgical abortion must travel out-of-province, paying their own way, to receive one. And as VICE magazine recently reported, getting a medical abortion in the province is “hard to do unless you know someone who knows someone.” This lack of access has real and incredibly dangerous consequences — that same piece told the disturbing stories of women who had been advised to simply take enormous quantities of Vitamin C to induce a miscarriage, or who were refused adequate follow-up care by physicians who left them in serious danger, and in some cases caused them real harm, by doing so.
Not to mention the fact that while RU-486 will theoretically make it easier for women to obtain medical abortions in places where their access was previously limited, there is still no guarantee that physicians will prescribe it. In Ontario, doctors can refuse to prescribe the drug on ethical grounds as long as they refer patients to other resources. In PEI, where many doctors are already reluctant (or flat-out refuse) to provide this kind of care to their patients, the introduction of one new drug will likely not be enough to turn things around. Nor does it mean that doctors who were previously reticent to provide the follow-up care that can be necessary after an abortion will suddenly be ready and willing to do so.
Even in less hostile provinces, that holds true. Only six percent of Alberta hospitals provide abortions, and the entire province only has two clinics. Even in BC, which has much better access,
The wait lists at some clinics are in the hundreds. In Kamloops, BC, for example, about 400 women need abortions but the doctor only does three abortions in the one-day a week she’s actually there, because of a lack of support from the hospital. So what happens to all the women who are in the later stages of the eligibility period? Hard to believe that this still happens in Canada, but some of them are likely to take matters into their own hands or try to get an abortion outside the safety of a hospital
All too often, Canadians pat ourselves on the back for being better than America. We should aim higher than that, especially when it comes to abortion access.