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Strengthening Access to Abortion and Other Related Reproductive Services Across Canada

  • RESET

Category:

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Sub-Category:

Sub-Category: GENERAL

Resolution Number:

700.20.27

Club:

Abbotsford/Mission

Province:

Alberta

Year:

1930

Status:

Open

Background:

In 2016, a United Nations Human Rights Commissioners report expressed concern that access to, and the number of abortion providers was inconsistent across Canada. Particularly, women in rural areas could experience a “serious ordeal” accessing abortion services as there is a lack of abortion providers in rural and northern areas (United Nations, 2016). Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights, in December 2022, reported a 184% increase in calls (during 2022 over 2021) from those looking for information on abortion and other reproductive health services. Indigenous women experience additional barriers to accessing health care because they often reside in remote areas that do not offer access to health care, and they have experienced stereotyping and racism in health care (Action Canada, 2021;2022). The mistrust they feel in the system is represented by the sterilization of Indigenous women from 1928 up to as late as 2018 (Canadian Encyclopedia, 2019).

Although decriminalized in 1988 by the Supreme Court of Canada R Vs Morgentaler [1988] 1 SCR 30 and provided as a publicly-funded service under the Canada Health Act, abortion remains inequitably accessible. The use of Mifegymiso, a drug regime more commonly known as the “abortion pill”, has not increased access to either medical or surgical abortion services. This pill must be prescribed by a doctor in person, only after the doctor has completed a training course, and it must be administered within 49 days of becoming pregnant (Stoat, 2022).

Women in rural areas and provinces/territories that do not offer sufficient access to centers that offer abortions, whether clinics or hospitals, often experience a delay in accessing abortion services. Delays in obtaining an abortion increase the risk of severe maternal morbidity from complications and severe adverse reactions to surgical abortion (Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2019). Once the decision is made to have an abortion, time becomes critical for access to the procedure.

In his mandate letter of December 16, 2021, the Prime Minister of Canada gave clear direction to Minister of Health Duclos to develop a Health Canada portal for sexual and reproductive rights information that would be available to Canadians no matter their locality. It is imperative that the Government of Canada continue to support access to abortion, among other reproductive services, as historical trends show 31% of Canadian women have required access to abortion services in their lifetime (Norman, 2011).

Comments:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW Canada) urges the Government of Canada and relevant ministries to: 1. Urge the provinces and territories to initiate a program of education and training for registered health care professionals in areas that do not provide abortion services within underserviced rural and urban, remote and Indigenous areas that would enable patients seeking abortion services to consult on abortion information and options, and be prescribed a medical abortion option without the necessity of meeting a doctor in person as currently required, if available within the necessary time frame; and 2. Allow trained nurse-practitioners, physician assistants and midwives to prescribe a medical abortion option in the consultation process and increase access in underserviced rural and urban, remote and Indigenous areas; and FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that BPW Canada urges the Government of Canada and relevant ministries to: 1. Complete the development of the Health Canada portal to include information on abortion options and related reproductive health information so that all women searching for information and facing reproductive health decisions have a safe and reliable tool to assist their connection to reliable information and educated and informed medical staff; and 2. Utilize new and ongoing technologies and infrastructure upgrades to increase access through the internet and use of mobile devices.

©BPW Canada  www.bpwcanada.com

Article ID: 13355