Mifegymiso, an alternative to surgical abortion, can medically terminate an early pregnancy of up to 49 days.
The Nova Scotia government says it will make Mifegymiso, the drug combination that can medically terminate an early pregnancy, available to women at no cost. (CHARLIE NEIBERGALL / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
HALIFAX—The Nova Scotia government says it will make the abortion pill available to women at no cost.
Kelly Regan, the minister responsible for the status of women, said Friday the province was “supporting more choice for women” by making Mifegymiso available by prescription starting in November.
The drug combination can medically terminate an early pregnancy of up to 49 days.
“This is important for me because I believe and this government believes in the reproductive rights of women,” said Regan.
Women with a valid health card and prescription will be able to get the $350 drug for free at pharmacies, at a cost to the province of between $175,000 and $200,000 per year.
“Women will now be able to get the entire cost of it covered,” said Regan. “If they already have a health benefits plan we would ask them to use that and then any remainder the government will cover. If they don’t have a health plan we will cover that cost.”
Regan said the province is also removing the requirement for a physician’s referral to obtain a surgical abortion, allowing women to refer themselves to the unit at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.
“They will be able to self-refer for these services in the future,” she said.
Regan said out-of-province students who are covered through university health plans will be able to access the service, although there are no plans at this time to cover residents who do not have a provincial health card.
Kim Munroe, the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s director of ambulatory care, said the QEII has same-day appointments for any woman who requires an abortion.
“We are actually setting up a self-referral process as well, which will go hand-in-hand with this, but we currently provide same-day appointments for women who require an abortion service.”
Nova Scotia has been the only province in Canada requiring women to obtain a referral.
The health minister had earlier issued a statement calling abortion access in the province “out of step” with current practices after The Canadian Press reported on barriers.
Mifegymiso, an alternative to surgical abortion, is a combination of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. It can be used to terminate pregnancies at an early stage, up to seven weeks from the start of a woman’s last menstrual period.
Women in Ontario were able to get the abortion pill for free with a prescription as of Aug. 10 at participating pharmacies with a valid health card and prescription.
Earlier this month, it was made available under Saskatchewan’s prescription drug plan, with the cost based on women’s individual drug coverage and eligibility through benefit programs.
New Brunswick and Alberta also cover Mifegymiso, and the Quebec government has said it hopes to do so.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority is also setting up a phone line for women to make appointments and seek advice.