Because access to abortion is so patchy in Canada, many people end up having to travel hundreds or thousands of kilometers, leaving families and community supports behind, to get to a provider. Most people don’t know how hard it is until they need the services themselves.
These lines show pathways people who reach out to us must travel to get the abortion care they need. Right now, people in Canada are made to dig deep in their own pockets or rely on financial assistance, like Action Canada’s emergency fund, which thankfully exists because of the generosity of people like you.
Abortion stigma and the lack of political will to fix unequal access make one of the most common medical procedures in Canada available only in some communities.
Action Canada’s Access Line is a go-to resource for judgment-free knowledge and services, and we are getting more referrals than ever before for our Norma Scarborough Emergency Fund, which is completely donor funded.
We are a unique service in Canada. We go above and beyond to craft clever solutions and come up with intricate access plans to clear the specific barriers to abortion each person faces.
Our success is now also our challenge and so, we need your help! This year’s June 2018 to July 2019 budget for emergency financial assistance is already ¾ spent and we have 7 months to go! The sharp rise in the number of people relying on us is why your generous support is needed today.
People we talk to are frustrated and overwhelmed to learn that they must travel across the country or into the United States at their own expense to get the services they need.
We have an experienced team who works out the details of access plans for folks like the single mother who needs to fly to another province to access services and has no one to take care of her children, the woman who has to flee an abusive partner while pregnant and hide in a secure shelter only to find out she doesn’t have health insurance because her partner didn’t file her sponsorship paperwork, the young teen who doesn’t know who to turn to, the couple who lives in a remote reserve, the devastated young trans man who was told he couldn’t get pregnant on his hormone replacement regimen but does. We hear these stories over-and-over. Breaking these barriers is how we help.
Those personal stories and the information we get from talking to people who need abortion care in Canada is directly informing all our policy work. We push for change and demand interventions from our elected officials with great authority because we have a clear picture of what facing barriers looks and feels like to people in Canada. That’s how we were able to increase access to the abortion pill as we had first-hand knowledge of all the ways policies could stand in the way and we knocked the barriers down, one after the other. And we are not stopping there.
The Access Line and the Emergency Fund serve dual purposes of supporting people in real-time who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford getting an abortion, and fueling policy changes so this fund will one day no longer be needed. That day will come: when abortion care will be integrated into primary health care and available to everyone, in all postal codes and regardless of income bracket. That’s what we’re working toward while filling a gap.
Did you read the Globe and Mail personal story of Atlantic Bureau Chief Jessica Leeder? A successful professional reporter and mother of two, she did not expect any issue when trying to get an abortion in Nova Scotia. She ended up flying to Toronto on her own dime after weeks of delays. Her story of bureaucratic hurdles, tears, doubts, stigma, and frustration made the front page of a national newspaper. Jessica had reached out to our organization to investigate how common her experience was, and we got to share with her about the hundreds of people we speak to every year who are in her situation and whom we support. She was well aware that she was in a very privileged position with access to resources many don’t have. Still, she ended up having to leave her province to exercise her right to choose an abortion.
In Canada, 30% of people who are able to become pregnant will choose to have an abortion during their lifetime. This is a story that many of us know too well personally, though we may not feel comfortable or safe talking about it. That’s why we are thankful to Jessica for proudly sharing her experience and demanding change in health policy. The classic feminist phrase rings true again: the personal is political.
Abortion access is a human rights issue. It’s also a bodily autonomy, violence against women, and gender justice issue. What we accomplish every day when we pick up the phone is bigger than just getting someone to a doctor’s appointment. Together, we must continue the fight forward!
All of us at Action Canada are honoured to be a trusted resource for so many professionals and individuals. We have had many of our health care provider colleagues become donors after witnessing their patients supported by the Norma Scarborough Emergency Fund. It is an honour to be increasingly trusted and relied upon, and able to contribute to the national conversation in the media about the importance of abortion access. We thank you for having made this possible and we thank you for continuing to make it possible!