Canadian medical centers that provide abortions are preparing to accept patients from states in the US that prohibit the procedure. The US Supreme Court revoked the constitutional right of Americans to have an abortion in June, prompting the expansion of abortion services and additional services for pregnant women in Canada.
The practice of abortion was decriminalized by the Canadian Supreme Court in 1988, 15 years after the US Supreme Court legalized abortion in America through a ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade.
As the country with the second largest land area in the world, accessing abortion services in remote areas of Canada with hundreds of kilometers of distance is difficult, even though in large cities the service is available in hospitals and other health centers.
With the annulment of the decision of the Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court, the thirteen US states directly bordering Canada have different abortion regulations. Some still allow abortion, limit it, or actually prohibit it completely.
Winnipeg, the capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba, borders North Dakota in America, a state that is expected to restrict access to abortion.
Blandine Tona, clinical program director at the Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg, predicts that American abortion patients will visit her clinic, as several other patients did before the pandemic. According to him, it has less to do with legal matters, but rather a matter of shorter mileage for some Americans to get to Canada than to states where abortion is still legal.
“I think it will happen. This has happened before, because for some people it is closer to our clinic than to other locations,” he explained.
Martha Paynter, author of “Abortion to Abolition, Reproductive Health Injustice in Canada,” does not know the approximate number of patients who will travel across the country to access abortion services.
Paynter, who has a PhD in nursing, says there are costs and logistical barriers that Americans face in getting healthcare in Canada. However, the current situation is an impetus to expand access to abortion throughout the country.
“It doesn’t seem possible, because you have to pay the fare, you have to have a passport, so it’s going to be quite a long process. So, I still think that we have to be prepared. This is a very good reminder of how much we must always be vigilant and expand access,” added Payter.
Canada’s far western province, British Columbia, shares borders with the US state of Washington, where abortion services will remain available, and the state of Idaho, where state law will soon ban the procedure – if it wins lawsuits .
Michelle Fortin, executive director of Options for Sexual Health, formerly the Planned Parenthood Association of British Columbia, said that potential immigration issues, such as having a passport and having to cross national borders, would encourage most Americans trying to access abortion services to seek abortion. visit their nearest state where the practice is still legal.
However, he assured that no patient would be turned away in Canada and that many Canadians were ready to offer other forms of support.
“I believe Americans who come in with unplanned or unintended pregnancies will be served. I don’t know if we will see a surge in American patients. (But) what is clear is that there are a lot of Canadians trying to figure out how we can help Americans access abortions,” said Michelle Fortin.
Fortin said the support was largely in the form of financial assistance to cover travel, child care and other expenses for Americans. He said the assistance might also include sending abortion drugs to the United States, as was done to ship drugs at lower prices in Canada than in America. [rd/em]