The Canadian Press recently highlighted the story of a single Nova Scotia woman who was enraged with having to undergo several blood tests and an ultra sound before being referred for a surgical abortion. In this women’s case, the process to obtain her abortion took about two months. Abortion advocates say Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada with these referral practices, and women in the province find this waiting period unfair and a violation of their rights.
Melanie Mackenzie told Canadian Press “that waiting period and all those tests were to shame me… to punish me. It felt like a price I had to pay to obtain an abortion in a country where my right to choose is legally protected.” According to CP, several women went through a similar referral process like Mackenzie although none went on the record, claiming there was too much stigma attached to abortion.
“Nova Scotia is one of the worst places in Canada to get an abortion. The situation for abortion access is extremely grim,” Darrah Teitel, public affairs officer for Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, told Canadian Press.
The article did not site any statistics proving the assertion that these stories are typical.
Randy Delorey, the Minister of Health and Wellness in Nova Scotia said his province was “out of step” with the rest of the country on abortion. But he said it was not provincial rules that caused delays to abortion access. “What we’ve seen thus far is there is no legislation or regulation that establishes” the referral process, “so that means it’s likely a case of it being historical practice.” He said he did not know if “any clinical rationale exists for the referral,” and therefore “it’s hard for me to take a position on it.”
Delorey asked Lianne Yoshida, medical co-director of the Termination of Pregnancy Unit at the Queen Elizabeth II hospital in Halifax, to examine the process and make recommendations to ease abortion access.
Yoshida told the CP that women should be able to make an appointment with an abortionist and undergo blood tests and an ultrasound all on the same day without delay. There is no timeline for her recommendations.