Backgrounder: Abortion Access Issues
Even though all provinces and territories have deemed abortion to be
a “medically required service”* under the
Canada Health Act,
abortion services still do not meet any of the five principles of the
- public administration
Because some provinces have failed to provide accessible or funded
abortion services as per the Canada Health Act, access to
abortion is still difficult for many people, especially those in
rural, remote, or conservative areas; minority and immigrant women;
low-income women; teenagers; transgender people, and other
Lack of access to abortion violates women’s and trans
peoples’ constitutional rights, but governments often lack the
political will to make abortion accessible. Even the medical
profession has succumbed to anti-abortion pressure by not performing
abortions or training providers.
- The province of New Brunswick does not fund abortions at clinics,
while Ontario does not fully fund abortions for every clinic. Women
must pay out-of-pocket at least in part for their abortions, which
is a violation of the Canada Health Act. The average cost
of a first-trimester abortion is $700.
- Fewer than one in five Canadian hospitals provide abortion
services, even though it is a common and simple medical procedure.
Hospitals that do provide abortions may enforce restrictive
policies such as 12-week gestational limits or requiring a
doctor’s referral. Hospitals often have long waiting
- There is a shortage of doctors able and willing to perform
abortions, partly because medical school training in abortion is
inadequate or unavailable, and partly out of stigma and fear.
Canadian medical schools spend an average of less than one hour
discussing abortion during the four-year curriculum.
First-trimester surgical abortion techniques are not even discussed
in many of Canada’s medical schools.
To improve access to abortion across Canada,
ARCC works towards:
- Obtaining full Medicare funding for abortion clinics (in
provinces that are still violating the Canada Health
- Improving hospital access to abortion across Canada
- Increasing the number of abortion providers and expanding
training opportunities for abortion
* To understand why abortion is a medically-required service and
must be fully funded, see our Position Paper
Abortion Is a “Medically Required” Service and Cannot be Delisted.