New Brunswick

Abortions down, terminated pregnancies up since Mifegymiso introduced

The number of publicly funded surgical abortions in New Brunswick has decreased since the province started offering the so-called abortion pill Mifegymiso for free last summer, but the overall number of terminated pregnancies is up.

16 fewer publicly funded surgical abortions from July through December

The abortion-inducing drug Mifegymiso is available for free to New Brunswick women with a valid medicare card to terminate pregnancies of up to nine weeks. (Submitted by Celopharma)

The number of publicly funded surgical abortions in New Brunswick has decreased since the province started offering the so-called abortion pill Mifegymiso for free last summer.

But the overall number of terminated pregnancies has increased by 146 compared to the same period last year, Department of Health statistic show.

Between July, when New Brunswick became the first province to provide universal access to the abortion pill, and Dec. 31, a total of 304 surgical procedures were performed, said department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane.

That's down from 320 surgical abortions between July 2016 and December 2016.

However, 162 prescriptions for Mifegymiso were also reimbursed through the department's medical abortion program last year, bringing the overall total of terminated pregnancies up to 466.

"Ever since we made Mifegymiso available free of charge for all New Brunswick patients, we are ensuring that financial barriers do not stand in the way of New Brunswickers' right to choose," Health Minister Benoît Bourque said in a statement.

Mifegymiso is free to women with a valid medicare card, a prescription and an ultrasound to confirm the gestational age of the fetus is under nine weeks (63 days).

It is a combination of mifepristone and misoprostolis, which act together to terminate the pregnancy and expel the contents of the uterus.

It costs about $300 for the two-step treatment.

Training rule dropped

Mifegymiso was authorized by Health Canada in July 2015.

Physicians and pharmacists were previously required to take a six-hour training course in order to prescribe the drug. Health Canada has since lifted that requirement.

In 2014, the Gallant government removed the requirement for women seeking a provincially funded abortion to have the consent of two doctors.

But the province only pays for the procedure if it's performed at a hospital in one of two cities, Bathurst or Moncton. Hospitals elsewhere in the province don't offer the procedure.

Women who have the procedure performed at a private clinic must pay $700 to $850 out of pocket.

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