New Brunswick to provide abortion pill Mifegymiso free of charge

New Brunswick to provide abortion pill free

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick has become the first province to announce it will offer the abortion pill Mifegymiso to women free of charge, a major shift for a province with a history of restricting abortion access.

The government said Tuesday it will introduce a program in the coming months that will allow any woman with a valid medicare card to access Mifegymiso for free.

Health Minister Victor Boudreau said the Liberal government wanted to remove financial barriers to “a woman’s right to choose.”

“We have been at the bottom of the list in regards to this issue for decades,” Boudreau acknowledged in a phone interview Tuesday. “But it’s our government that is … breaking down barriers.”

Mifegymiso, also known as RU-486, was authorized by Health Canada in July 2015 and became available on the market in January. It costs around $300.

Access to abortions have been controversial in New Brunswick since the 1980s, when the government stipulated medicare would only cover abortions at two hospitals following referrals from two doctors who certified the procedure as medically necessary.

That changed in 2015, when the province moved to fund abortions at three hospitals in two cities, Moncton and Bathurst, and scrapped the regulation requiring the approval of two doctors.

Sandeep Prasad, executive director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, said he was surprised to see New Brunswick taking a proactive approach to a publicly funded abortion pill. He said he hopes other provinces follow suit.

“New Brunswick was in the top two provinces that were the slowest to progress in terms of abortion access — P.E.I. being the other one, where we simply did not see services in the province for years,” said Prasad in a phone interview from Ottawa.

“The fact that it’s New Brunswick announcing this first, I think that’s going to add some real pressure on some of the other provinces who would say they’re a lot better at abortion access than New Brunswick.”

The Common Drug Review, which evaluates new drugs and recommends whether it should be covered by public drug plans, is currently reviewing Mifegymiso.

Once that process is complete, the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance â€” which represents all provinces and territories — negotiates a price with the manufacturer.

Boudreau said New Brunswick has committed to have a program in place to cover that price once it is negotiated.

He said Tuesday’s announcement was also meant to encourage local physicians to complete the training required to prescribe the drug, as set out under Health Canada’s conditions for approving Mifegymiso.

Other conditions include that an ultrasound be conducted to confirm the gestational age, and that the drug not be prescribed beyond the gestational age of 49 days.

Mifegymiso has been available elsewhere for nearly 30 years and is approved for use in more than 60 countries with varying restrictions.

It is a combination of two drugs taken on separate days.

Mifepristone is taken first to block the hormone progesterone, which helps prepare the lining of the uterus for pregnancy. This causes the lining to break down and shed.

Then it’s followed 24 to 48 hours later by misoprostol, which causes the uterus to contract and expel the pregnancy.

— By Aly Thomson in Halifax.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Westshore Rebels game postponed due to poor air quality conditions

Games expected to continue the following week

BC Farmers’ Market Trail a one-stop virtual guide to the goods

New website assembles, profiles 145+ farmers’ markets throughout B.C.

Saanich police investigating sexual assault in broad daylight

Social media lit up with accusations incident took place at Regina Park tent city

Swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

Oak Bay man designer behind Canucks’ retro jersey

Jeremie White was 20 years old when he told Canucks assistant GM Brian Burke he had a design

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights are misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Most Read