With Election 2021 around the corner, we welcome measures to address persistent discrepancies in access to abortion care across Canada, from the lack of services to disinformation. Abortion is an essential and common medical procedure already covered by the Canada Health Act that one in three people who can get pregnant will need in their lifetime.
Despite how common it is, and though abortion has been decriminalized in Canada since 1988, access remains a problem. Current policies on conscientious objection do not prevent doctors from denying people abortion and other essential health services. Access to providers, particularly in rural and remote areas, remains a significant challenge. Crisis pregnancy centres outnumber real providers in many provinces, feeding people harmful disinformation. These barriers are intensified for people who are not covered by provincial health care, who have tenuous immigration status, who live in poverty, or who are marginalized in other ways.
The lack of access to abortion in Canada is something we’ve been documenting for years. The impacts on individuals are grave. Through our Access Line, we speak to people across Canada every single day about these barriers, and year after year, our Norma Scarborough Emergency Fund, a national program of financial assistance for those facing barriers to abortion, is drawn down to $0—clearly filling an important service gap.
Access to abortion should not be dependent on social, geographical, or economic status, which is why we are pleased to see several federal parties moving the conversation beyond being pro-choice or not.