It's now much easier for pregnant Quebecers to access abortion pill

·2 min read
As of Thursday, it will become easier for Quebecers who choose to end their pregnancies to obtain abortion pills.  (Jeff Roberson/The Associated Press - image credit)
As of Thursday, it will become easier for Quebecers who choose to end their pregnancies to obtain abortion pills. (Jeff Roberson/The Associated Press - image credit)

For several years, access to the abortion pill has been more strictly controlled in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada, but a new directive issued to doctors across the province is changing that.

As of now, doctors in Quebec can prescribe the abortion pill — also known as a medical abortion — as long as they feel qualified to do so. Before, doctors were required to follow a special in-person training for both medical and surgical abortions.

"It is up to the physician to ensure that he has the knowledge and skills necessary to prescribe this medication, as for any other care, medication or treatment, in accordance with his ethical obligations," reads a statement from the Quebec College of Physicians, the professional body that sets rules around abortions in the province.

The college's decision comes less than two weeks after a group of at least 300 doctors in Quebec signed an open letter demanding that restrictions around access to abortion pills be removed. They argued that the provincial rules made access to medical abortions needlessly more difficult in Quebec.

The calls for better abortion access in the province grew louder following last month's controversial reversal of Roe v. Wade by the United States Supreme Court.

A medical abortion is available in Quebec up to the nine-week mark of a pregnancy and doctors had said that many patients could run out of time when an ultrasound was required, especially if they live outside of urban centres.

For years, doctors who were deemed qualified to prescribe the pill were also required to have patients get an ultrasound before the abortion — another provincial rule that differed from the rest of Canada.

In a statement earlier this month, the college said it lifted that obligation during the pandemic. On Thursday, it confirmed that the rule is now being scrapped for good.

The college said the changes are part of an ongoing review of its rules around medical abortions. It says it's reviewing the nine-week limit for such abortions, looking at the possible use of telemedicine, the "contributions of other professionals to prescribe the medication" as well as training tools for physicians.

"The college will make sure physicians will have training at their disposal to gain the knowledge and skills required to prescribe the medication, without having that training be mandatory or imposed," read the group's statement.

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