The R. v. Morgentaler (1988) Supreme Court decision was a pivotal moment for abortion in Canada because criminal code provisions surrounding abortion were deemed unconstitutional through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Because of this decision, abortion became legal at all stages for Canadians, just like many other medical procedures. Despite the Supreme Court’s decision permitting abortion services without the worry of criminal repercussions, access has continued to be difficult for many. This situation is especially true for people living in the more rural areas, such as the Atlantic provinces. Since 1988 advocates have been fighting to expand accessibility to support those who need abortion services. Because of determined organizations and individuals, abortion resources have slowly become more and more available and accessible. This article covers abortion options in each of the Atlantic provinces and where to access pro-choice medical and surgical abortion support.
When seeking abortion care services, be aware of Crisis Pregnancy Centres. Check out our Finding Pro-Choice Pregnancy Supports article to learn more about CPCs and how to spot them.
Newfoundland and Labrador
There are two main places to go to for abortion services in the province:
- Athena Health Centre (St. John’s), and
- Health Sciences Centre (St. John’s).
Health Sciences Centre requires anyone coming to the clinic who is under 19 years of age to have parental consent unless they are independent of their family. They offer a 2-day outpatient procedure (you do not need to stay overnight) for clients who are between 8-15 weeks pregnant. To get an appointment at the centre requires a referral.
Athena Health Center does not have any age requitements, and you do not need a referral to make an appointment. They offer a 1-day outpatient procedure for clients who are 4.5-15 weeks pregnant.
If you are more than 15 weeks pregnant, then you will need to go out of province to access abortion services.
Mifegymiso, the medical abortion pill, is available by prescription for use up to 9 weeks. Beyond that, you would need to explore surgical options. You can get a prescription from Athena Health Centre or talk to your doctor about if they prescribe it.
If you have a Medical Care Plan card, the provincial government covers the procedure costs of the surgical abortion and the prescription cost of the medical abortion.
For more information on abortion services in the province, check out:
- Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s announcement on coverage for mifegymiso: https://www.gov.nl.ca/releases/2018/health/0718n03/
- Planned Parenthood Newfoundland and Labrador SHC: https://www.plannedparenthoodnlshc.com/
- Athena Health Centre: https://www.thrivecyn.ca/athena-health-centre/
- Health Sciences Centre: https://www.easternhealth.ca/facilities/health-sciences-centre/
- The article “Abortion is Legal in NL, But Access Remains Restricted”: https://theindependent.ca/journalism/abortion-is-legal-in-nl-but-access…
There are 4 places that provide medical and surgical abortions in the province. They are:
- Clinic 554 (a private clinic in Fredericton),
- Chaleur Regional Hospital (Bathurst),
- Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre (Moncton), or
- Moncton Hospital (Moncton).
The abortion pill is available by prescription for use up to 9 weeks. Beyond that, you would need to explore surgical options. You can talk to your doctor about if they prescribe mifegymiso, or get it at the above listed clinics.
Surgical abortions are available for up to 14 weeks at the Chaleur Regional Hospital and Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre, and for up to 16 weeks at the Moncton Hospital and Clinic 554. You do not need a referral to make an appointment.
If you have a New Brunswick Medicare card, the provincial government covers the procedure costs of the surgical abortion at the hospital-based Family Planning clinics listed above. The New Brunswick government currently does not fund abortion procedures done outside of hospitals, which is in violation of the Health Canada Act. As such, abortion procedures at Clinic 554 can cost $700-$850, depending on how far along you are. Financial Assistance may be available for those in need.
If you have a New Brunswick Medicare card, the provincial government covers the prescription cost of the medical abortion.
For more information on abortion services in the province, check out:
- Clinic 554: http://www.clinic554.ca/
- Horizon Health Network Abortion Clinic Info: https://horizonnb.ca/services/clinics/family-planning-clinic-abortion-c…
- Government of New Brunswick’s “Medical Abortion Program - Q&A”: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/health/MedicarePrescriptionDrugPlan/NBDrugPlan/ForHealthCareProfessionals/medical_abortion_program_qa.html
- The article “N.B. premier changes tune on private clinic health services, but not abortions”: https://globalnews.ca/news/9085101/nb-private-clinic-health-services-abortions/
- Reproductive Justice New Brunswick: https://rjnb.org/
If you are looking to access abortion services or just learn more about your options, you can call the Nova Scotia Choice Clinic self-referral line (1-833-352-0719). They will connect you with your nearest abortion service provider, whether that’s booking appointments for a surgical abortion or giving you the contact information for clinicians providing mifegymiso prescriptions. You are no able to self-refer to clinics.
The abortion pill is approved for use for up to 9 weeks in Nova Scotia.
There are 4 places in the province where you can get a surgical abortion:
- Nova Scotia Women’s Choice Clinic (Halifax),
- South Shore Regional Hospital (Bridgewater),
- Valley Regional Hospital (Kentville), and
- Colchester East Hants Health Centre (Truro).
Surgical abortions are available for up to 16 weeks. Beyond that, you would need to go out of province to access abortion services.
If you have a Medical Services Insurance card, the provincial government covers the procedure costs of the surgical abortion and the prescription cost of the medical abortion.
For more information on abortion services in Nova Scotia, check out:
- Nova Scotia Women's Choice Clinic: https://nshealth.ca/abortion
- Halifax Sexual Health Centre: https://hshc.ca/pregnancy-options/
- Cape Breton Centre for Sexual Health: https://www.facebook.com/people/Cape-Breton-Centre-for-Sexual-Health/100057079436816/
- Pictou County Sexual Health Centre: http://shns.ca/member-centres/pictou-county-centre-for-sexual-health/
- Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland County: https://sexualhealthmatters.ca/
- South Shore Sexual Health: http://southshoresexualhealth.com/
- Sheet Harbour Sexual Health Centre: https://www.instagram.com/sheetharbourshc
Prince Edward Island
Abortion services in PEI are available through Women's Wellness Program & Sexual Health Services, at their clinic locations in Summerside (medical and surgical) and Charlottetown (medical only).
The abortion pill is available for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, and surgical abortion is available for up to 13 weeks of pregnancy. You can call the program directly to make an appointment (1-844-365-8258), no referral needed. If you are more than 13 weeks pregnant, the Women’s Wellness Program can coordinate out-of-province care at the Moncton Hospital in New Brunswick (up to 14 weeks) and the QEII Hospital in Halifax (up to 16 weeks). Beyond 16 weeks, the Women’s Wellness Program can help coordinate further out-of-province care.
If you have a PEI Health Card, the provincial government covers the procedure costs of the surgical abortion and the prescription cost of the medical abortion. If you need an out-of-province procedure, travel is not covered by the PEI government; however, you may be able to receive funding through one of the Health PEI’s Travel Support Programs or other national abortion organizations.
- Women's Wellness Program & Sexual Health Services: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/health-pei/womens-wellness-program-sexual-health-services
- PEI Abortion Rights Network: http://www.abortionrightspei.com/
As you can see from the above sections, abortion access is somewhat limited and inconsistent across the provinces. It’s also true that abortion services are mainly localized in just a few cities, making it difficult for people in areas where more travel is required.
If you don’t have any support, or don’t know where to turn to, consider contacting Abortion Support Services Atlantic They might be able to offer things like emotional or peer support, rides, gas cards, or arranging for a place to stay. They can also try to help connect you with programs or organizations to help cover costs of things like travel or accommodations.
If you live in the Atlantic provinces, consider contacting any of the orgs listed above to see how you can get involved with volunteering and supporting accessible abortion information and services. Spread the word!