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Ontario midwives want to perform abortions

Association says it could help with access to reproductive care in remote and rural areas.

Midwives in Canada are currently prohibited from performing pregnancy termination, such as providing abortion drugs such as Mifepristone.

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Midwives in Canada are currently prohibited from performing pregnancy termination, such as providing abortion drugs such as Mifepristone.

Midwives in Ontario say it's high time they're allowed to perform abortions.

"Canada is at a very important point in the conversation where we can look to the future of midwives being able to provide more comprehensive reproductive care services," said Elizabeth Brandeis, president of the Association of Ontario Midwives.

The group is currently in conversation with the Ministry of Health about expanding midwifery services and increasing its workforce. While there isn't a formal proposal specific to the abortion issue, Brandeis believes it's an option that should be given serious consideration.

"In the future, midwives are hoping that abortion provision will be become part of the scope in communities that require that service," she said, noting the issue is especially relevant now following the recent legislation preventing protests within 50 metres of an abortion clinic.

Midwives in Canada are allowed to prescribe medications and provide care for pregnant women, as well as post-natal care up to six weeks. But, unlike in countries like Sweden and France, Canadian midwives are limited to providing early pregnancy counselling and cannot help perform pregnancy termination.

"Not everybody who comes to a midwife chooses to stay pregnant," said Brandeis, explaining that the performance of abortion — which is already part of the international standards defining midwifery — would be just an extension of the work midwives already do.

"There are geographic areas that are under-served in terms of access to abortions, mainly in northern Ontario and other rural areas. Midwives would certainly be able to fill those gaps."

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