Yukon should join other jurisdictions in paying for abortion pill: women's group

Starting Jan. 15, B.C. will join five other Canadian provinces in paying the cost of Mifegymiso, a drug that can be used to terminate pregnancies of up to nine weeks. The Yukon Status of Women Council would like Yukon to follow suit.

B.C. announced it will start paying for drug this month, joining 5 other provinces in doing so

Currently, only girls ages 18 and under are covered for Mifegymiso in the Yukon. (CBC)

A Yukon women's group is applauding a move by the B.C. government to cover the cost of an abortion pill.

"It's fantastic," says Charlotte Hrenchuk, co-ordinator of the Yukon Status of Women Council.

Charlotte Hrenchuk, co-ordinator of the Yukon Status of Women Council, says the abortion pill is more accessible for women in rural communities than surgical abortions, yet she says the cost of the drug is too high for many. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

Starting Jan. 15, B.C. will join five other provinces in paying the cost of Mifegymiso, a drug that can be used to terminate pregnancies of up to nine weeks. 

Now, Hrenchuk would like to see Yukon follow suit. At a cost of $425, Hrenchuk says the drug is too expensive for many women — yet, she says, it's often preferable to surgical abortions. 

"It is a more universal form of access to abortion, particularly for young women and women living in rural communities," she said.

"It's less invasive. It's quite safe, it's quite easy ... and it can be made available in rural communities so women don't have to leave their community to have an abortion, which is their right."

Currently, the only women in Yukon covered for the drug are those 18 and younger, as part of the territory's Children's Drug and Optical program. 

But, that could change. 

Yukon's decision to be 'based on best practices'

The Yukon government says it's doing a review of the drug.

On Jan. 15, B.C. joins Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in covering the cost of Mifegymiso. (Submitted by Celopharma)

Pat Living, with Yukon Health and Social Services, says the territory is looking at what other jurisdictions are doing. 

"We'll be making a decision based on best practices and what we think will be best for Yukon women," she said. 

Living did not have a timeline for when the review will be completed.

Mifegymiso only became available in Canada a year ago, although mifepristone and misoprostal, the drugs it contains, were listed as "essential medicines" with the World Health Organization in 2005. 

Dr. Wendy Norman, with the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine in Vancouver, told CBC that Mifegymiso has been available for more than 30 years in 60 countries around the world.

"So we know that it is effective and safe," Norman said.