Head of BC women's clinic calls for provincial abortion-pill coverage

by Leo Almazora20 Oct 2017
Recently, Health Canada approved the use of Mifegymiso, a two-medication abortion treatment, as a non-surgical option to terminate pregnancies up to seven weeks. All the provinces have decided to pay the drug under their public plans — except for BC.

According to Dawn Fowler, the executive director of the Vancouver Island Women's Clinic, the province is the lone holdout in providing universal coverage for the drug. She claimed the lack of provincial coverage women who want to end unwanted pregnancies are getting pushed into choosing surgery, reported CBC News.

“Some women are accessing it quite easily, but the issue is we don't have universal coverage,” Fowler told the news outlet. While some women can get the drug because of employment health benefits, those without private benefits must find other ways to deal with the $350 price tag.

Fowler noted that in provinces where people can get it through the public health plan, nearly 50% of women choose it over a surgical abortion. She added that aside from being a heavy expense for the health system, surgeries put pressure on hospital operating-room schedules.

She said her clinic has sent a letter to BC Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix, calling for Mifegymiso to be covered under the province’s Medical Services Plan. Dix has confirmed that the NDP government, in response to the concerns it received, is planning improvements that would be part of a broader strategy toward women’s health.

“The new government came into office with some new perspectives on this issue,” Dix said. “We're on it.”

According to Dix, universal coverage is being considered outside the legislature. He added that the government is looking into concerns that, in certain regions, the drug is only available from hospital formularies and not in doctors’ offices.

“The issue of expanding access is to ensure that people have access, not just in a hospital setting, but across British Columbia, and that's what we're working on right now,” Dix said.

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