The Ontario government says it is giving women in the province more choice over their reproductive health by covering the cost of Mifegymiso, commonly referred to as an abortion pill, starting on Aug.10.
Mifegymiso, also known by the name RU-486, is a two-drug combination of mifepristone and misoprostol that can be used to terminate a pregnancy up to 49 days.
It was approved in July 2015 after a lengthy study by Health Canada. It has slowly become available for distribution in Canada since then.
- 'Abortion pill' Mifegymiso slowly available in Canada
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The Ontario government pledged in its spring budget to publicly fund the medication but hadn't indicated when that would happen or any other details until now. Status of Women Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris announced Thursday that women with a valid health card and a prescription from their doctor or nurse practitioner will be able to get it for free at pharmacies that carry it starting next week.
At least 150 health-care providers with the ability to prescribe medication have completed the training offered by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, according to the province's health ministry.
Pharmacists will bill the ministry $337.25 for the drug, which includes the mark-up and dispensing fee.
The Ontario government says making the pill available for free will give women more autonomy related to their reproductive health, removes a financial barrier and increases access to abortion, especially for women in remote and rural areas.
"The commitment to publicly funding Mifegymiso means women across Ontario will have fair and equal access to safe abortion without payment, judgment or exception," Naidoo-Harris said in a news release.
The executive director for Planned Parenthood Toronto was also quoted in the announcement, applauding the government's commitment.
"In over 60 countries, for nearly 30 years, Mifegymiso has been a safe and accessible abortion option. Provincial funding for reliable medical abortion is the right decision," said Sarah Hobbs-Blyth.
The Campaign Life Coalition, which is opposed to abortion, reacted the opposite way, calling it a disappointing decision by the Ontario government.
"There are competing needs under the health-care system and that it saddens us greatly that they are going to be funding another form of abortion as opposed to genuine health care," Johanne Brownrigg, a lobbyist for the organization in Ottawa, said in an interview.
Campaign Life Coalition fought the introduction of the drug in Canada but ultimately was unsuccessful in its lobbying efforts. Brownrigg said now the group is focusing on educating women about the drug and trying to deter them from taking it.
New Brunswick and Alberta also cover Mifegymiso, and the Quebec government has said it plans to do so by this fall.