A few weeks ago, Echo: Improving Women’s Health in Ontario. (an agency of the provincial government), released a report on the state of abortion access in the province. A detailed copy of the report has been posted by the Institute of Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode.
1. Abortion is a safe procedure in Ontario. Abortion procedures performed at lower gestational age lowers the complication rate, making timely access to abortion services essential.
2. Research shows that high quality abortion services must be readily available to support women’s reproductive health. When women are able to make safe choices regarding their sexual and reproductive health, they are more likely to participate equally in social, political and economic life.
3. The Ontario abortion system is fragile. Abortion services are shifting from a model that relied on hospitals to one that relies on specialized clinics and private physician offices (PPOs). The current abortion system is poorly understood and is dependent upon a relatively small group of providers. Hospitals must remain core providers in the system and provide back-up support to the clinics and PPOs.
4. Access to abortion services can be difficult and access is not equitable across Ontario, primarily due to a complex and fragmented system. A centralized source of information regarding how to access services that support women’s choices needs to be available.
5. Health care professionals have a duty to operate in alignment with legal and ethical frameworks that identify obligations regarding confidentiality, respectful behaviour and full disclosure of pregnancy options and choices to their patients. When women are not referred to abortion service providers, it can cause barriers in accessing an abortion provider and receiving a timely procedure or intervention putting the woman at increased risk.
Now, can we all finally agree that abortion is health care?