Nova Scotia launches toll-free phone line for women considering an abortion
Nova Scotia Health Authority says it will eliminate the need for a doctor's referral
Women considering an abortion in Nova Scotia will soon be able to call a toll-free number to access information, arrange testing and set up an appointment.
The phone line will eliminate the need for a doctor's referral to obtain the time-sensitive procedure.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority said the phone line will be staffed by a clerk or nurse from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. Outside of those hours, callers can leave a voicemail and receive a follow-up phone call.
The health authority said the clerk or nurse will be able to answer questions about the options available.
Women will be able to make an appointment with a community-based physician for an abortion using pills, or schedule a surgical abortion at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.
Available starting Monday
The phone line, 1-833-352-0719, will be available starting this Monday.
The provincial government announced last fall that it would no longer require a physician's referral to obtain an abortion and that the abortion pill, called Mifegymiso, would be available for free.
The changes came after The Canadian Press revealed in a series of stories that women in the province faced significant barriers and delays to the procedure.
Despite improved abortion access, Dr. Lianne Yoshida, medical co-director of the unit in Halifax, has said the lack of an ultrasound machine at the unit could still delay women from accessing abortion pills or the procedure.
She has also expressed concern with the current billing structure, which doesn't adequately compensate physicians for the time involved with overseeing an abortion using pills.
The province's fee committee is considering the request to create a unique billing code for prescribing Mifegymiso.