Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wait Times for Abortions in Nova Scotia 'Unconscionable,' Advocate Says

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wait Times for Abortions in Nova Scotia 'Unconscionable,' Advocate Says

Article excerpt

Abortion access in N.S. questioned


HALIFAX - More women have come forward to complain about abortion-access hurdles in Nova Scotia, as a national lobby group says it plans a renewed push in the province.

One woman says she was a 23-year-old university student when she missed a period and suspected her birth control had failed. She confirmed it with a pregnancy test in a Starbucks washroom.

"I was in this state of incredulity," said the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But from the very beginning I absolutely knew what my choice was."

She made an appointment at an on-campus health clinic where a doctor repeatedly questioned her decision and made her feel uncomfortable.

"I walked in and was extremely clear about what I wanted," she said. "I didn't expect a clap on the back but the doctor was completely unsupportive."

Although the doctor did eventually write a referral, she had to wait more than six weeks before obtaining an abortion.

She's not alone. Several women interviewed describe facing significant barriers to abortion services in Nova Scotia, with women requiring referrals for surgical abortions and waiting several weeks for the time-sensitive procedure.

Compounding delays is a lack of provincial coverage for the abortion pill Mifegymiso, a two-step process that can be used to terminate a pregnancy of up to 49 days. Also, the province has no private or free-standing abortion clinics and the Halifax hospital that performs nearly 90 per cent of the province's abortions will only book appointments for women who are at least eight weeks pregnant.

"We've always pointed to the Maritimes as a huge problem for abortion access but now that P.E.I. and New Brunswick have improved access, Nova Scotia has been left behind," Joyce Arthur, executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, said in an interview from Vancouver. …

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