Cuts to health care, geography limit abortion access in Canada: advocate

Abortion may be legal in Canada but accessing services very much depends on where you live.

Abortion rights advocate Robyn Schwarz told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday that even though the procedure was decriminalized in Canada in 1988, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in R. v. Morgentaler, the country has seen a significant access “crisis,” particularly in rural and Indigenous communities, as well as certain provinces.

Factors such as stigma and limited health-care funding limit access to abortion, she says, as does geography.

“Depending on where you live and who your hospital is, it could be quite difficult for you in your own community to get access to an abortion, and oftentimes in these smaller places the doctors or hospitals do not want to say they do abortions still and that’s happening in Canada in 2022,” Schwarz said.

Concerns over access to abortion have heightened in recent days after the U.S. Supreme Court ended nearly 50 years of constitutional protections for the procedure last Friday by overturning the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade. About half of U.S. states are now expected to ban abortion in some form as a result.

Unless you live in a major urban centre such as Toronto or Vancouver, accessing abortion services may require leaving your community or province and spending money out-of-pocket to travel elsewhere in order to get the procedure done, Schwarz says.

“If I had a heart attack in my home community and was told, ‘Hey, you need to now travel by plane to another province to get this service,’ every single time, that would not be considered good health care, and so that’s where we’re at and that’s what we’ve had happen,” she said.

Watch the full interview with Robyn Schwarz at the top of the article.

With files from CTV News and The Associated Press

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