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Why the wait? Halifax advocate calls on Nova Scotia to cover abortion pill

Shannon Hardy says there's no reason N.S. can't follow four other province's lead on covering Mifegymiso.

The cost of abortion drug Mifegymiso is currently covered--or will soon be covered--in four provinces. Halifax-based advocate Shannon Hardy wants to see that happen in Nova Scotia soon.

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The cost of abortion drug Mifegymiso is currently covered--or will soon be covered--in four provinces. Halifax-based advocate Shannon Hardy wants to see that happen in Nova Scotia soon.

With Ontario beginning to cover the cost of Mifegymiso later this week, the founder and co-ordinator of Maritime Abortion Support Services says it’s time Nova Scotia followed suit.

Mifegymiso, also called RU-486, is a two-drug abortion pill that can be prescribed in Canada up until seven weeks (49 days) gestation. The cost is currently covered or will soon be covered in New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.

“The other four provinces have invented the wheel and now we just have to get on the bandwagon,” Shannon Hardy said.

“We sincerely don’t have to come up with anything new and exciting. It’s more about will. It’s having the will.”

Hardy said there are numerous reasons the pill should be covered in this province, not the least of which is Nova Scotia’s rural nature.

“The majority of Nova Scotians are rural and Mifegymiso was specifically created to help people who didn’t have access to surgical abortions,” she said.

“It’s not fair or really truly realistic in a country that claims to have universal health care that we have people traveling up to eight hours to a city like Halifax to have a procedure that could be done in their homes.”

Hardy said in addition to helping all women needing an abortion, covering the cost of Mifegymiso could have the added benefit of reducing wait times.

“Imagine the psychological impact of being told ‘Oh you’re six weeks pregnant. You’re going to have to be pregnant four or six weeks longer than you want to be.’ It’s really hard to not gender that or politicize that or not ask am I being punished because I have a uterus,” she said.

“I get that we have wait times for other things. But this is something that could actually be addressed by having Mifegymiso, and yet the medical system is making a choice to not do that.”

For trans or gender non-conforming people who still have a uterus but don’t identify as women, Hardy said the abortion pill could actually be “life changing.”

“You’re already going to feel a little bit more vulnerable because you’re having to navigate the medical system, and then you’re dealing with a body part that you don’t necessarily identify with,” she said.

“Having the ability to stay home and do this privately or with a doula would be pretty life changing.”

When asked about its plans to cover Mifegymiso, the provincial department of health and wellness said in an email there is nothing definite yet.

“Mifegymiso is currently available in Nova Scotia, and is covered by some private drug plans. It is not currently covered by our Pharmacare programs,” the statement read.

“Like other provinces, the Nova Scotia government is looking at coverage for Mifegymiso, but a decision has not yet been made.”

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