N.L. close to an­nounc­ing fund­ing plan on abor­tion pill

Journal Pioneer - - NEWS - BY HOLLY MCKEN­ZIE-SUTTER

Health Min­is­ter John Hag­gie says New­found­land and Labrador is close to an­nounc­ing a plan on pro­vin­cial fund­ing for the abor­tion pill.

Hag­gie says he wants coun­selling ser­vices in place as part of “a com­pre­hen­sive pack­age that we would de­liver across the prov­ince” be­fore an­nounc­ing a de­ci­sion on Mif­e­gymiso fund­ing.

The two-drug com­bi­na­tion ter­mi­nates preg­nan­cies of up to nine weeks, as an al­ter­na­tive to sur­gi­cal meth­ods that are cur­rently cov­ered by the prov­ince. The fed­er­ally ap­proved med­i­cal abor­tion drug has been at least par­tially cov­ered by ev­ery other Cana­dian prov­ince. Med­i­cal stu­dents and prac­ti­tion­ers have writ­ten an open let­ter to the premier and health depart­ment ask­ing for uni­ver­sal Mif­e­gymiso cov­er­age, as well as sup­port­ive re­sources for physi­cians pre­scrib­ing the drug. Hag­gie said “it’s not go­ing to be a long process” be­fore an­nounc­ing the gov­ern­ment’s fund­ing pack­age. “We’re very near mak­ing a de­ci­sion and be­ing able to roll out a ser­vice rather than sim­ply make an an­nounce­ment about the avail­abil­ity of a par­tic­u­lar drug,” Hag­gie said in an in­ter­view Thurs­day. He said fund­ing “is a fairly straight­for­ward con­sid­er­a­tion,” in that the prov­ince has a mech­a­nism for fund­ing any ap­proved drug.

“My con­cern at the mo­ment is sim­ply just putting a pill, a drug, on the for­mu­lary doesn’t ad­dress the big­ger is­sue of how women ac­cess the coun­selling ser­vices they need be­fore and af­ter, quite frankly, af­ter they have a ter­mi­na­tion by what­ever method.”

Ac­tivists say the prov­ince has a unique need for al­ter­na­tive abor­tion ac­cess. Mif­e­gymiso costs ap­prox­i­mately $350, while a sur­gi­cal abor­tion can cost as much as $1,500, not in­clud­ing travel costs to a clinic.

The prov­ince’s year-round abor­tion clin­ics are lo­cated in St. John’s, putting it out of fi­nan­cial reach for many low­in­come pa­tients out­side the cap­i­tal.

Hag­gie

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