Alberta has joined the list of provinces offering Mifegymiso, a pill that terminates early pregnancies, for free.
And with Monday's announcement came some notes from the province's premier, Rachel Notley, on exactly why that decision was made.
"For far too long, women in rural communities have had to travel to major urban centres to receive a surgical abortion. By providing universal coverage for Mifegymiso, we're supporting greater choice for women when it comes to their reproductive health," she wrote on Facebook with a link to a press release about the decision.
Being given options with regards to whether or not to have a child can make a massive difference, not just for women, but also for any existing children and the greater community.
In a massive study concluded in 2015 that looked at how unintended pregnancies affected women's lives, the research group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health found that women who carry unwanted babies are more likely to live in poverty, as well as more likely to stay with abusive partners. Forty-five per cent of the women who sought an abortion cited their other children, and the lack of resources of both time and money they could give them, as a reason.
It's an issue Notley has pursued since well before she became premier in 2015, as Alberta has only three abortion clinics in the whole province — two in Calgary and one in Edmonton. And with a population that is 17 per cent rural, that creates a disparity in care.
But even pharmacies in cities like Edmonton don't carry Mifegymiso, which was approved by Health Canada in July 2015 and made available to the public in January 2017, CBC reports. This follow-up announcement hopes to change that.
According to the Ontario College of Pharmacists, there are three ways in which Mifegymiso can be dispensed after it has been prescribed by a doctor (which is the necessary first step, as it is not an over-the-counter medication). Either the doctor can provide it to the patient, the prescription can be sent to a pharmacy and the medication can come to the doctor's office, or the patient can take the prescription to a pharmacy and receive the medication there.
The pills can be taken safely at home, but as part of Canada's rules, emergency follow-up care must be provided if necessary.
New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba and Ontario have also agreed to cover the cost of the drug, thanks in large part to the population that are unable to access abortions otherwise.
"We believe women in this province do have a choice," Quebec's Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said upon that province's decision. "We've always been in favour of women having the right to decide for themselves. And today we have a new option available."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story identified Rachel Notley as an MP. She was, and continues to be, an MLA.
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