After Health Canada eased the restrictions on the abortion pill Mifegymiso, the Manitoba New Democrats are asking when there will be better accessibility across the province.
Despite the easing of restrictions the abortion pill is currently only available free of charge in Winnipeg and Brandon. People outside of those locations have to pay upwards of $300.
In question period on Wednesday, NDP justice critic Nahanni Fontaine said the province’s current regulations “severely and unjustly discriminate against women and girls in northern communities.”
Mifegymiso is a combination product containing two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol, which are used in sequence to terminate a pregnancy. Advocates for the medication have said it will help make an abortion more accessible in Canada, especially for women in rural and remote areas who are currently forced to travel to find a provider.
On Tuesday, Health Canada announced changes to how the medication is prescribed and dispensed. The drug, initially known as RU-486, can now be dispensed directly to patients by a pharmacist or prescribing health professional.
Women will also no longer be required to provide written consent to take Mifegymiso, nor will health professionals need to register with the drug’s distributor, Celopharma, to prescribe or dispense it.
However Health Canada still requires a mandatory ultrasound to ensure patients don’t have an ectopic pregnancy — one outside the uterus — and an assessment of the length of gestation.
Health Canada originally approved Mifegymiso in July 2015 and it sells for about $300.
Over the summer the Province of Manitoba announced it will be free of charge for patients as long as they go to Brandon Regional Health Centre, the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg or the Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg — where they also provide surgical abortions.
Outside of those places, the drug is not free and while it has become an eligible benefit…