Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Equity Issue:' Saskatchewan to Fully Cover Cost of Abortion Drug Mifegymiso

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Equity Issue:' Saskatchewan to Fully Cover Cost of Abortion Drug Mifegymiso

Article excerpt

Saskatchewan to fully cover cost of abortion drug

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REGINA - Advocates are celebrating the Saskatchewan government's decision to fully fund the cost of the abortion drug Mifegymiso which means the treatment is now covered across Canada.

Frederique Chabot, a director with Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, said Saskatchewan is the last province to introduce universal coverage of the two-pill drug combination, which was first approved by Health Canada in 2015.

"This was not just about a medication getting covered," she said Friday. "It was about addressing an equity issue across the country."

Manitoba announced last week that it would be covering the drug.

Mifegymiso induces the termination of a pregnancy in the early stages. It can cost as much as $350 if a patient doesn't qualify for provincial drug coverage or have private insurance.

Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter said the decision to pay for the drug followed a recommendation he received from officials he had tasked with reviewing its coverage. That was done in response to requests from medical students at the University of Saskatchewan.

Chabot and other advocates see the drug as an opportunity to improve access to abortion services in rural areas.

"Cost has been one of the biggest prohibiting factors ... because they have (had) to travel into one of their urban centres, take time off work," said Samuel Simonson, a medical student at the University of Saskatchewan.

"Now that we have that coverage in their own community, we'll be able to provide abortion for them without barriers -- the way it should be."

Reiter said Mifegymiso provides a "less invasive" way of terminating a pregnancy than a surgical procedure.

But the issue of abortion access didn't factor into the ministry's recommendation on Mifegymiso, which was the basis for his decision, he said.

"Frankly, it was accessible. …

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