Asking for an Abortion: A Pocket Guide

Illustration of a doctor, with a speech bubble and box of mifegymiso

Having an abortion is a normal and common experience. One in three people who can get pregnant will have one. In Canada, abortions are safe and legal procedures done by healthcare professionals. 

There are two ways that abortions are done: 

  • Procedural abortion is done in a hospital or clinic. This is also called surgical abortion. 
  • Medication abortion is done by taking prescription pills. This can be done at home or wherever you feel comfortable. 

Lots of hospitals and clinics in Canada offer procedural and medication abortions. But many people live far from a hospital or clinic or may already have a doctor they like.

In Canada, any doctor and nurse practitioner can prescribe medication abortion. In Quebec, midwives are also allowed. You have the option to ask a doctor, nurse practitioner, or midwife for this service. 

In this guide we give you facts and tips to ask a healthcare professional for medication abortion.

Here’s what you’ll find: 


Can I download this guide?

Yes! This Pocket Guide is part of the Your Sexual Health App and can be downloaded to your phone or mobile device. Once downloaded, you can access this information offline (when you do not have access to wi-fi or data).

To install the app: 

  1. Go to on your mobile device
  2. Click the    or    icon in the top right or bottom right of the web browser on your phone 
  3. Select “Add to Home Screen” and the app will install
  4. If you do not see an “Add to Home Screen” options, you may need to first select “Share” and then “Add to Home Screen” on some devices 

Still having trouble. You can find more details on the Your Sexual Health App page

Are pregnancy tests from the store accurate?

YES! Anyone can buy a pregnancy test from any pharmacy, grocery, or dollar store. They can also be ordered online. Pregnancy tests that you buy from a store work the same way as the ones you get from a doctor’s office. 

Pregnancy tests that use your urine (pee) are accurate if used correctly. Read all the instructions and take your time to use the test correctly. The tests work by detecting the pregnancy hormone in your urine (this is called human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG). 

You can take a pregnancy test as soon as your period is late. If the test is negative, this may not mean that you are not pregnant. If the test is taken too early, there may not be enough pregnancy hormone in your body for the test to find. If you continue to experience pregnancy symptoms you can do another test a few days later. 

What exactly is Mifegymiso?

Mifegymiso (mi-fee-guy-mi-so) is the brand name for a kit that contains two medications that cause abortion. These are mifepristone and misoprostol. 

Mifepristone blocks the effects of progesterone, a hormone needed for pregnancy to continue. Misoprostol causes contractions of the uterus (womb), which helps to push out the pregnancy.  

Taking these medications together helps the uterus to release blood as it would during menstruation, and the current pregnancy.  

The medications are taken by mouth, about 24 – 48 hours apart. This technique works 95% of the time to end an early pregnancy. For more information check out the Mifegymiso patient information guide

How is a Nurse Practitioner different from a regular nurse?

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN), but with an advanced university education. NPs went to nursing school, have at least 2 years of practice, and have master’s degrees. They can diagnose and treat many health problems. 

Nurse Practitioners are the only nurses who can prescribe Mifegymiso. 

Is abortion legal in Canada?

Yes. In 1988, abortion was decriminalized in Canada. This means it became okay for medical practitioners to do abortions without being punished. 

There are no laws in Canada that say that you can’t get an abortion. Abortion is healthcare, so it is regulated like other medical procedures. This means there are rules about which health providers can do it, and what procedures they must follow.  

Rules about healthcare are set by every province and territory in Canada, so access to abortion across the country can look different depending on where you live. 

If I’m under 18, do I need permission to get an abortion?

People under 18 years old do not need parental consent to access abortion in most of Canada. If you understand what it means to be pregnant, and to stop the pregnancy, you can consent to the procedure yourself. 

In practice, there are some exceptions: 

  • In Manitoba, some physicians may require a parent or guardian’s permission if you are under 18 years old. 
  • In Newfoundland and Labrador, you need parental consent if you are under 19 to access abortion at the Health Sciences Centre. 

Under Quebec law, you are required to get consent from your parents if you are under 14 years old. 

No matter how old you are, you never need permission from your partner or the person that you became pregnant with. 

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The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

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