The Liberal government of Nova Scotia will provide free abortion pills to women in the province beginning sometime later this year.

The announcement was made by Kelly Regan, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, on Sept. 22. She said, “this is important because I believe and this government believes in the reproductive rights of women.”

Under the new policy, Nova Scotia women with a valid health card and a doctor’s prescription will be able to obtain the $350 Mifegymiso abortion pill at no cost if their private insurance does not cover the drug. Kelly also said that out-of-provinces students will be covered through their university health plans.

The policy is expected to cost the province between $175,000 and $200,000 annually. That suggests the government expects there to be at least 466 chemical abortions. In 2014, the last year for which statistics are available, there were nearly 2000 surgical abortions committed in the province.

At the same time, Kelly said that the province will ban the practice of requiring women seeking surgical abortions to obtain a reference from their family physician, in effect permitting women to refer themselves for surgery. The QE II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax announced they were ready to take same-day appointments for surgery although they were uncertain whether they could guarantee same-day ultrasounds which are required before surgical and chemical abortions in the province.

Journalists asked Premier Stephen McNeil, who is Catholic, about the new policy. He told the Canadian Press that as a father, “my job is to love my daughter if she so chooses to make a decision on her health.” He added that while he thought some Nova Scotians would be opposed to the expansion of abortion in the province, “we believe women deserve access to this health care.”

Ellen Chesal, executive director of CLC Nova Scotia, told The Interim, the decision to expand abortion by funding the abortion pill is “appalling” because it can be harmful and destroys an unborn human baby. CLC NS is encouraging its supporters to write letters to both the health minister and premier asking that they reverse the decision.

Chesal also said that funding the abortion pill and making it easier to obtain surgical abortions through self-referral will increase the number of terminations in the province.