COVID-19 is changing the way Canadians have abortions


As health care providers continue to adapt to the demands of COVID-19, doctors in Canada say that the crisis proves we need accessible abortion services more than ever.

From routine procedures to life-saving surgeries, health authorities have deemed different services either essential or non-essential to prioritize emergency care. This need to prioritize health care based on urgency has reopened debates about the kinds of services we consider important.


An Abortion Doula On Canada’s Problematic Lack Of Access

Sarah Ratchford
Last Updated July 28, 2020

As an abortion doula, Shannon Hardy spends her days driving people to appointments or taking care of them afterwards. That all changed when the pandemic started. Sharing a car with a stranger, not to mention helping them convalesce, has been out of the question since COVID-19, leaving many without access to this crucial healthcare service.

Getting an abortion in Atlantic Canada, where Hardy lives, was a challenge even before coronavirus. Though abortions have been decriminalized in Canada since 1988, provinces have jurisdiction over access. As a result, where and at what point in a pregnancy you can get an abortion is influenced by the local political climate, and varies widely. Mifegymiso, the pill that induces what's called a medical abortion, is available and covered by provincial healthcare, but not every doctor will prescribe it. In some places, there's access to surgical abortions, but parts or all of it are not covered or you have to pay up front and seek reimbursement afterward.


If You Think Abortion’s Bad, Try Childbirth, Jen Gunter Tells U.S. Politician

Many of the side effects of abortion cited by its opponents are actually more true of labour and childbirth.

By Maija Kappler

Note to the many people out there spreading misinformation about reproductive rights: you do not want to get into a Twitter fight with Dr. Jen Gunter.

On Wednesday, Republican congresswoman Debbie Lesko took to Twitter to discourage the use of Mifegymiso, the two-pill combo that terminates a pregnancy.

BC’s Online Abortion Services Increasing Access in Pandemic

The number of clinics offering access to needed medication without physical appointments has tripled.

Moira Wyton, Today |
July 2, 2020

Two clinics that began offering online abortion services during the pandemic are seeing a surge in patients, highlighting the lack of reproductive health services available for patients outside the Lower Mainland.

Before the pandemic hit, the Willow Clinic in Vancouver was the only place in B.C. offering abortion services without requiring an in-person visit.

But the pandemic encouraged Vancouver’s Elizabeth Bagshaw Clinic and sister clinic Everywoman’s Health Centre to move ahead more quickly with plans to offer the service, tripling the number of clinics patients can choose from to obtain the required medication.


Canada – Why the abortion pill is more important than ever during the coronavirus

Why the abortion pill is more important than ever during the coronavirus
There could be an increase in unintended pregnancies just as abortion becomes less available, putting women who are self-isolating in abusive situations at higher risk

By Michelle Cohen
April 29, 2020

While COVID-19 has prompted widespread discussion (and in some cases fiery debate) about medications such as hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and remdesivir, one drug which may be of great consequence during the pandemic has seldom been mentioned: Mifegymiso, also known as the “abortion pill.”

Reproductive health advocates began sounding the alarm last month that access to abortion in this country is shrinking. Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights reported that calls to its 24-hour hotline increased by 30 per cent in late March, with many of those phoning in were distressed about not being able to schedule an abortion or acquire contraception.


Canada – Abortion Is An Essential Service, But The Pandemic Is Making It Harder To Access

Abortion Is An Essential Service, But The Pandemic Is Making It Harder To Access
Travelling for abortion care is even harder when the coronavirus has shut everything down.

By Maija Kappler

Canada’s provincial and territorial governments have deemed abortion an essential medical service, and one that continues to be available during the COVID-19 pandemic. But reproductive health advocates say existing barriers to abortion access have become even more significant now.

Calls to a 24-hour info line provided by Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights increased by 30 per cent in the last two weeks of March, according to communications director Laura Neidhart.


How COVID-19 Is Making It Harder To Get An Abortion In Canada

How COVID-19 Is Making It Harder To Get An Abortion In Canada

Leah Rumack
Last Updated March 26, 2020

The panicked calls about accessing abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic started coming in to the Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights hotline last week, and they haven’t stopped. “People are worried they won’t be able to get to their appointments, or that they won’t be able to even schedule appointments because they’re in quarantine,” says Frédérique Chabot, director of health promotion for the reproductive rights non-profit. “There’s a lot of anxiety.”

Understandably so. In a country where access to abortion — a legal, medical service — is already hit or miss, the potential closure of clinics and the scaling back of services is another looming barrier. And while Canadians likely won’t ever face a situation like women in Ohio or Texas — where anti-choice politicians are using COVID-19 as a completely transparent ruse to stop or indefinitely “postpone” abortions — there’s a very real concern that reproductive healthcare is going to slip down the priority list as the pandemic deepens and resources are stretched thin. “We can’t treat abortion as if this isn’t as urgent as COVID-19,” says Chabot. “It’s so time-sensitive and has such huge consequences, not like other elective surgeries.”


How PEI Became One Of The Most Accessible Places For Women’s Health Care In Canada

How PEI Became One Of The Most Accessible Places For Women’s Health Care In Canada
Within 10 months, PEI went from having no abortion services on the island to offering self-referral. What can the province teach the rest of the country?

by Emily Baron Cadloff
Updated Nov 20, 2019

When Courtney Cudmore learned she was pregnant in 2015, she knew immediately what she would do. At 31 years old, the Charlottetown restaurant worker was already a mother of two, and her then-fiancée had taken a job out of province. She was overwhelmed and scared, and she wanted desperately not to be pregnant. Cudmore saw a doctor at a walk-in clinic, who she says told her he had a religious objection to abortion. After she pleaded with him, he reluctantly gave her a prescription for a medical abortion. She tried several pharmacies before finding one that would fill it.

“There was no way I could bring another child into the equation. What was I going to do? How was I going to feed it? Clothe it? Find room for it?” she wrote at the time on Facebook.


Abortion in Canada: The election debates, the law and the reality

Abortion in Canada: The election debates, the law and the reality
October 3, 2019

Martha Paynter, PhD Candidate in Nursing, Dalhousie University

This federal election season, abortion is undeniably a campaign issue, with media coverage routinely suggesting abortion rights are tenuous or up for debate.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has declared that he is “personally pro-life,” while insisting that his cabinet will not “reopen the issue.” This does, however, leave the door open for individual MPs to put forward anti-abortion private member bills.


Canada – Abortion is constitutional right and, unfortunately, an election issue

Abortion is constitutional right and, unfortunately, an election issue

Jennifer Taylor argues Canadians can’t trust the Tory leader on his promise to avert the anti-abortion movement
Abortion is constitutional right and, unfortunately, an election issue

By Jennifer Taylor
OPINION 23 Sep 2019

It’s been 50 years since abortion was partly decriminalized in Canada, and 31 years since R v Morgentaler, the Supreme Court of Canada decision that struck down the remaining Criminal Code restrictions. Surely, in 2019, Canadians have accepted that there is a constitutional right to abortion access in this country, and abortion is a publicly funded health care service – not a subject for debate. We’ve moved on. Right?

Unfortunately, not.