Access to abortion pill in Sask. unclear – Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan remains the only prairie province where women have to cover the cost of the ‘abortion pill’ — something advocates and public health experts believe must change.

The Alberta government recently announced universal coverage had been extended to Mifegymiso — more commonly called the abortion pill — which costs about $300.

New Brunswick became the first province to do so, with the government of Quebec pledging to do the same and Ontario’s coverage of the medication beginning Thursday. Recently, the pill was also made free of charge to women who access it from centres in certain health regions in Manitoba. 

In Saskatchewan, however, the Ministry of Health says the process is still underway to review whether the drug, approved for sale by Health Canada in July 2015, should be listed under the provincial drug benefit plan.

“We’re seeing our neighbours both to the east and west stepping up and covering the cost. Saskatchewan government should be doing the same,” said Nicole Sarauer, interim leader of the NDP.

“We’ve seen this government fall behind on other things and we wouldn’t want this to do anything to impede women’s reproductive choices in this province, limit them in comparison to what we’re seeing happen in other provinces.”

The province anticipates the review to conclude later this summer. The cost of the medication should be reimbursed by provincial drug plans, according to a recommendation from the Canadian Drug Expert Committee — an independent panel of experts that provides advice to governments on publicly-funded drug plans.

Sask. ‘one of hardest places to get abortion’

Dr. Wendy Norman, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia and chair of family planning research for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said research shows in that in the Prairies, 96 cent of surgical abortions are done in large cities.

In Saskatchewan, abortions are only available in Regina and Saskatoon. In Regina, the procedure is available at the women’s health centre at the Regina General Hospital, and in Saskatoon, at the Saskatoon City Hospital and two other clinics.

“Saskatchewan is one of the hardest places to get an abortion,” said Darrah Teitel, public affairs officer for Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights.

She said it’s challenging for women living outside cities where abortion services are not available to terminate a pregnancy, because they must drive long distances to…

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