Canadian abortion providers prepare to receive US patients

Canadian abortion providers prepare to receive US patients

The US Supreme Court ruling that struck down the country’s constitutional right to abortion is driving the expansion of Canada’s abortion services and the possibility of providing other forms of support to pregnant women.

The Supreme Court of Canada decriminalized abortion in 1988, 15 years after the landmark Roe v. Wade of the United States Supreme Court that legalized abortion throughout the United States.

Canada is the nation with the largest land area in the world, and abortion services are not easily accessible for hundreds of miles in some rural areas, but most major urban areas have hospitals or medical centers where they are available.

Now that Roe v. Wade, the 13 US states along the Canadian border are free to allow abortions, restrict them, or ban them outright.

Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba, which borders North Dakota, a state that is expected to restrict abortion access.

Blandine Tona, director of clinical programs at the Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg, hopes to see American patients visit the center, as some did before the coronavirus pandemic. She said this has had less to do with laws and more to do with proximity; some Americans are closer to Winnipeg than to states where abortion is still legal.

Martha Paynter, author of Abortion to Abolition, Reproductive Health Injustice in Canadais unsure of the amount of cross-border travel that might occur to access abortion services.

Paynter, who has a doctorate in nursing, said there are costs and logistical hurdles for Americans to get care in Canada. However, he said, the situation is a motivator to expand access to abortion throughout the country.

“It seems unlikely because you would have to pay for the trip, you would have to have a passport, it would be quite a process,” he said. “However, I think we should prepare. This is a very good reminder of how we must always be vigilant and expand access.”

Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia, shares a stretch of border with Washington state, where abortion services will remain widely available, but also with Idaho, where a state law will soon ban the procedure if it survives court challenges. .

Michelle Fortin, executive director of Options for Sexual Health, formerly the Planned Parenthood Association of British Columbia, said potential immigration issues, such as requiring passports and having to cross an international border, mean that most Americans seeking abortion services visit the closest US state that allows it. .

Still, he said, no one will be turned away in Canada, and many Canadians are looking to offer other types of support as well.

“So I think any American who comes forward and has an unwanted pregnancy would be taken care of,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re going to see a huge influx. I know there are many people in Canada who are looking for ways that we can support people in the United States to access abortion.”

Fortin said this support is primarily financial to help cover travel, childcare and other costs for Americans. She said this could also include shipping pharmaceutical abortion drugs to the United States, much like what has been done for years with other drugs that are cheaper in Canada than in the United States.

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