Help smash barriers to abortion

“It’s okay. We’ll figure this out together,” I tell Ava* as I take a deep breath. I’m so sick of people having to go through this—especially when they’re already feeling so vulnerable.

Ava tells me how she recently moved from Oromocto to Fredericton. She doesn’t yet know many people in her new town. She is 14 weeks pregnant.

Ava decided weeks ago that she was not in a position to continue the pregnancy to term. Through her tears, she tells me how difficult it’s been for her to get access to an abortion in her home province of New Brunswick—an abortion she is legally entitled to receive.

Can you believe that New Brunswick is still violating the Canada Health Act and refusing to pay for surgical abortions outside of hospitals?

For Ava, who now lives in Fredericton, abortion is still out of reach. She can’t get the procedure done at the clinic close to home because she can’t afford to pay the $800+ out of pocket. She doesn’t drive and doesn’t have any way to get to the hospital in Moncton…much less the money it would take.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my years with Action Canada it’s that legal does not mean accessible when it comes to abortion services.

That’s why I’m so grateful for your support. Together, we can help more people like Ava get the immediate help they need while advocating to increase fair and equitable access to sexual and reproductive health services for everyone in Canada.

Please take a moment right now to donate your special year-end gift to help Action Canada continue to smash barriers to abortion.

If you’re like me, you’re horrified by the abortion law changes going on in Texas. Yet, even here in Canada abortion remains out of reach for many—especially folks who are marginalized and those who live outside of major cities.

In fact, there are only 22 rural service providers in the entire country. And now that Greyhound bus service has ended, it’s even harder for people to reach them…not to mention the additional logistical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Crisis Pregnancy Centres—anti-choice places strategically designed to trick people into not terminating a pregnancy—have proliferated, outnumbering real clinics 2:1 in many areas of the country.

Through Action Canada’s Access Line, a vital service you make possible, we get a very detailed picture of just how many barriers people still face in accessing their legal right to an abortion. And let me tell you, it’s not good.

Your support helps us fill an important service gap by providing immediate travel support to folks seeking access to reproductive health services while documenting the systemic barriers people face… barriers that disproportionately affect young people, those living in poverty, people facing intimate partner violence and folks with tenuous immigration status.

Armed with accurate and up-to-date information, we can not only support people directly, but also band together to smash barriers to reproductive rights people keep encountering. Together, we can go for long term change and progress. As I write, there is an urgent need to:

• Counter harmful abortion lies and stop the spread of disinformation about fake “abortion reversal pills.” Action Canada was among the first to sound the alarm about a widespread “abortion pill reversal” campaign spreading across the country. There is growing evidence that doctors are already prescribing the dangerous, experimental treatment in coordination with anti-choice organizations in Canada and the U.S. If you believe it’s wrong for anti-choice campaigners to put their own agenda before people’s health and lives, we need your help to stop this. It’s time to push Health Canada to regulate health information and stop the rising disinformation tide which is putting people at risk.

• Tell New Brunswick to stop playing games with people’s right to choose. New Brunswick is the only Canadian province that doesn’t cover the cost of abortion outside of a hospital. Pregnant people like Ava deserve the health care services they are legally entitled to. That’s why we must continue to fight the province’s discriminatory and anti-choice regulation and push them to stop violating the Canada Health Act.

• Pave the way for easier access to essential health services for all. Geographic distance to medical facilities and a patchwork of provincial policies is a huge barrier to accessing abortion services. We recently supported a person in Saskatchewan who found themselves needing to travel to the United States to get an abortion. With no provincial process in place, we helped them sift through enormous barriers and red tape to access the care they are legally entitled to. Fortunately, due to this intervention, we were able to collaborate with government officials to create the necessary process and paperwork in record time for them to be able to go to their appointment. Now, anyone in Saskatchewan who needs this service going forward, has a clear path to follow.

We count on our community of supporters to help us realize a world where everyone can make decisions about their own bodies based on accurate, stigma-free information. Your generosity makes all of this possible.

As recently as 2014, there was no strong national voice on sexual and reproductive health and rights. That’s why Action Canada was created through the merger of Canadians for Choice, ACPD, and the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (formerly the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada) to become one voice unified for change.

Because, when it comes to sexual and reproductive rights, whenever we’ve seen progress, it was not because it was willingly offered—it was because of all the people— including you and I—who fought for it.

The reason why we have access to contraceptive options is because people like you and me fought for it.

The reason why we have better abortion care is because we never gave up the fight.

It was people like you who helped us advocate and succeed in getting people access to the gold standard for medical abortion—the drug Mifegymiso (RU-486), commonly known as the “abortion pill.”

Backed by donor support, Action Canada campaigned to get Mifegymiso added to provincial drug coverage. We spent a year pressuring provinces and speaking with politicians, advisors and media explaining why this pill needed universal coverage across the country.

Together, we fought to remove the outrageous restrictions that prevented people from accessing Mifegymiso.

You see, unlike most drugs, physicians had to complete special training to prescribe Mifegymiso. It wasn’t allowed to be prescribed by nurse practitioners or dispensed by pharmacists. Until 2019, an ultrasound was mandatory to get a prescription, which severely restricted access for people in rural and remote locations or provinces with long waits for ultrasounds.

But not anymore. Action Canada supporters like you helped open up access to the abortion pill with your tireless commitment.

Together we have fought and won so many battles for sexual and reproductive health and rights and we can’t stop now. We need you to continue to fight for Ava and those who are still facing barriers.

The fight goes on. Your support is what keeps us going. Please help Action Canada continue to tear down systemic barriers that prevent access to abortion by sending your special year-end gift today. Together, we must continue to relentlessly find ways to make things better for more people.

On behalf of folks like Ava, and the many people who will benefit from your gift, thank you for helping to smash barriers to abortion and fight for equal access for all.

With gratitude,

Frédérique Chabot
Director of Health Promotion
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights

P.S. Please take a moment right now to donate your special year-end gift to help smash the barriers to abortion for folks like Ava and change the system that limits our reproductive rights! Thank you.

*Names and identifying information have been changed to protect privacy.

Posted on 2021-11-04