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In the Media

Abortion Rights in Canada

By July 3, 2022No Comments

After the U.S Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion rights, many individuals have become interested in the current law surrounding abortion in Canada.

Is abortion legal in Canada?

Canada does not currently have a specific law regulating abortion. Instead, it is viewed as other medical procedures and controlled through the individual provinces or territories and professional bodies. This was determined by the Supreme Court case R v. Morgentaler in 1988. It found that an abortion law would violate Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the life, liberty, and security of a person. Therefore, an abortion law was viewed as unconstitutional.

 In Canada, what options are included in my right to an abortion?

Most provinces and territories allow private abortion clinics. However, the availability of abortions at private clinics varies across the country. Select territories and provinces will pay the cost of an abortion conducted outside of the hospital, but others will not.

In Canada, an abortion can be conducted in two methods. A medical abortion involves taking a prescription dose of medicines, specifically Mifegymisoâ. The cost of this medication is covered for all individuals with valid provincial or territorial health insurance for the area they reside. National programs are also in place to cover the cost of this pill. A surgical abortion is conducted by vacuum aspiration or dilation and evacuation (D&E).

Are there restrictions regarding when I can have an abortion performed?

The type of abortion that an individual can seek is often dependent on the weeks of the pregnancy and the province or territory in which medical attention is sought. Often, a medical abortion is the primary method for pregnancies up to roughly 10 weeks. If the pregnancy has progressed beyond 10 weeks, a surgical abortion will likely be the main option. It is rare for an abortion to be performed after 20 weeks but may be sought due to life-threatening conditions. Abortion care is not available for a pregnancy beyond 23 weeks and 6 days.

In Canada, a fetus is not considered a human being until it has “completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother.” This is according to section 223(1) of the Canadian Criminal Code.

What does the future look like for abortion rights in Canada?

The right to an abortion may be influenced by political actions. There have been multiple attempts by political parties, such as the Progressive Conservative Party, and private members to pass bills in the House of Commons that would restrict abortion rights. None have been successful. Since the failed attempt by Brian Mulroney in 1990 to restrict abortion rights, no other government has tried to pass legislation.

In specific provinces, legislation has also been passed to support individuals that choose to visit an abortion clinic. This includes Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, requiring protestors to remain a minimum distance away from an abortion clinic. The present-day government under the Liberal Party reaffirms that abortion rights will continue to be protected in Canada.

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