In 2017, it felt like reproductive rights in the U.S. were faced with countless obstacles. But thankfully that’s not the case in all countries. The Canadian province of British Columbia announced on January 2nd that it will soon begin to provide free access to the abortion pill.
The provincial government will begin covering the cost of the pill on January 15th, according to the January 2nd press release. Since July 11th, medical abortions have been covered for people who have PharmaCare, an insurance plan specifically for pharmaceuticals. But for those without PharmaCare, medical abortions can cost about $300.
B.C. is the sixth province to provide free access to the medication. In order to obtain the pill, patients must have a prescription from their doctor, and they must have an ultrasound to confirm that the pregnancy is not ectopic — when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus.
The pill in question, Mifegymiso, can be used to terminate pregnancies at nine weeks or earlier. Surgical abortions were already covered by national health care in the province. Mifegymiso was approved for use in July 2015.
Dr. Wendy Norman, head of the Canadian Contraception Access Research Team, told the Vancouver Courier that the improved access to medical abortions could benefit patients in rural areas who don’t have easy access to abortion clinics. She also said that the decision to cover the abortion pill will likely result in fewer surgical abortions and lessen the burden on cramped operating rooms.
British Columbia’s announcement is a huge victory for reproductive rights. Getting an abortion is an intensely personal decision, and only the woman involved can know if it’s the right choice. With free access to an abortion pill, residents of B.C. facing unexpected pregnancies will be able to safely follow through with whatever choice they make. We applaud this province for recognizing individuals’ reproductive freedom.