Thursday, January 26, 2006

Choice update: 18 years after the Morgentaler Decision

Canadians for Choice reviews the status of abortion in Canada, eighteen years after the Supreme Court's Morgentaler Decision.
...eighteen years after the historic Morgentaler decision, Canadian women still face challenges with realizing choice, in particular with access to abortion services. A recent national study of access to abortion servicesi at hospitals across Canada found that:
  • only 17.8% of all general hospitals in Canada perform abortions, with some jurisdictions, such as Prince Edward Island and Nunavut, offering no hospital abortion services at all;

  • even hospitals providing abortions place obstacles in the way of women trying to obtain one, including restrictive gestational limits and long wait times (sometimes 2-3 weeks);

  • in many cases, hospital employees are not able to provide women with information about alternative resources;

  • physicians and hospital employees deny women access by refusing information and referrals, or by referring women to anti-choice agencies; and

  • many women have to travel significant distances to obtain abortion services, which is time-consuming, expensive, and conflicts with work and child care.
Canadian women still lack access to medicalized abortion, by which an early pregnancy can be terminated through taking drugs. The abortion drug mifepristone (RU486) is not yet available in Canada, even though it was recently added to the World Health Organization's list of "essential medicines" needed to improve health and save lives in 2005.
Morag Humble, a Canadians for Choice member, says:
"Many people, particularly young women, think that because abortion is legal in Canada, it will also be readily accessible if they need it. People need to understand the complexity of the situation, both to protect themselves and to ensure that basic rights are not eroded."

Click on the link for more (PDF file).

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