In a country where abortion has been decriminalized for almost 30 years, it’s frightening to see the stigma, shame, and barriers still faced by women and trans folks who need one.
When people call our Access Line about an abortion, they reasonably expect to find that service close to home. But all too often, I have to tell them that their nearest abortion provider is a significant distance away, sometimes hundreds of kilometers. Some callers, as newcomers to Canada, face additional challenges such as language and citizenship status.
The reality is that there are far too few abortion providers for a country as vast as Canada. For those with limited or no resources, Action Canada’s Norma Scarborough Emergency Fund plays a crucial role in offsetting some of the travel costs they need to get a safe abortion.
Every day, I speak to women who must travel to get an abortion but can’t afford it. Getting time off work, and loss of wages, presents another obstacle. We urgently need your help to ensure that unrestricted access to safe abortion services is a reality for everyone.
You and I know these services should be available close to home, and if not, the government should be paying for costs related to abortion. Action Canada is working with clinics, service providers, and governments to breakdown these barriers one by one.
This September 28th, those of us who believe in the right to choose will mark the International Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion. Even though many progressive voices fought hard for abortion to be decriminalized in Canada, the reality is that too many of us still face significant barriers in exercising our reproductive rights.
As the Health Information Officer, I speak with people every day on our Access Line who are looking for sexual health information, abortion referrals, and a supportive ear. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job.
As someone who grew up in rural Canada, and as someone who feels strongly about the need for inclusive, accessible, and quality health care, I’m extremely passionate about putting an end to the inequalities many people face when accessing health services.
I often feel an incredible sense of frustration and disappointment when callers have to rely on our fund to access a medically necessary procedure that should be easily available. Callers are frustrated and angry, too.
Provinces are required to ensure medically necessary health services – like abortion – are accessible. And through the Canada Health Act, the federal government can hold accountable those provinces not ensuring compliance. With your support, Action Canada will be able to pressure the government to equalize the inequality in access to sexual health services across the country.
Changing policy is crucial, but often moves slowly. So while we fight institutional barriers and political apathy, we need to support women and trans folks facing an unwanted pregnancy. Your support for Action Canada’s Norma Scarborough Emergency Fund often makes the difference for someone to access an abortion or not.
Our emergency fund is Canada’s only national fund for non-procedure costs related to abortion access. Each month, our meagre budget of $1,250 is quickly exhausted. Even after making frugal choices, and securing new funding sources, we’re usually only able to cover the cost of travel or accommodation, not both.
The number of calls to the Access Line is growing. Along with more calls related to abortion, we have also seen a rise in calls related to sexual health generally. People need reliable, comprehensive, nonjudgmental sexual health information. We’re here to provide it – 24/7 – but we can’t do it without you.
Given the many practical obstacles to abortion, it’s not surprising we’re also receiving an influx of calls about Mifegymiso, the gold-standard abortion drug that recently gained federal approval. Many callers aren’t aware that Mifegymiso hasn’t yet been made available in Canada.
Currently, Health Canada wants to only have doctors dispense Mifegymiso. Outrageously, this would mean forcing individuals to take the drug in the presence of a doctor. And with a price tag of $270, the medication will be out of reach for many who need it. Under the proposed restrictions, this drug – which could drastically change the terrain of abortion access in Canada – will simply replicate existing barriers to abortion.
This is a pivotal moment for abortion access in Canada. With your support today, we can continue to put pressure on our government to ensure Mifegymiso helps reduce the unequal access to abortion in this country, not increase it.
I’m so inspired by the ongoing commitment to our cause. With support from people like you, we’ve been able to accomplish so much. But so many more people need our help. Please help us change the landscape of sexual health in Canada with your donation to Action Canada today.
Health Information Officer
P.S. Recently, a woman supported by the Norma Scarborough Fund was prevented from checking into a hotel by an anti-choice employee. That’s just one example of the stigma still faced by those seeking to exercise their freedom of choice. Please help give them the support they need by sending your donation to Action Canada today!