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Will Canada become Metro Detroit's closest abortion haven?

Hannah Mackay, The Detroit News on

Published in News & Features

Canadian rules for abortion

Abortion is legal in Canada up to 24 weeks of gestation and medical abortions are available up to nine weeks of gestation. Twenty-three hospitals and clinics in the province of Ontario provide abortion care, according to the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.

The main barrier non-Canadians face when accessing any kind of health care services there is affordability, said Access Line Manager for Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights Jessa Millar.

"You can call up an abortion clinic or whatever the provider is ... you can make an appointment and say, 'I don't have Canadian health care coverage. I'm going to be paying out of pocket,' and you're allowed to do that. It's just that you won't be covered and it could be quite expensive," Millar said.

While Ontario residents are guaranteed coverage of reproductive health care under the Canadian health system, the cost of medical abortion pills for non-residents or those without provincial coverage is between $300 and $370 while surgical abortions at free-standing clinics range from $400 to $2,300 depending on gestational age, according to Planned Parenthood Toronto.

Another potential barrier is the number of abortion providers. Two providers offer abortion care in the Windsor area — the Windsor Regional Hospital and the Windsor Essex Community Health Center.


Hospital representative Steve Erwin said the hospital would not comment on the accessibility of abortion care for non-Canadians until a decision was made regarding Roe v. Wade. Windsor Essex Community Health Center currently does not offer abortion care to non-Canadian citizens, according to a center employee who wouldn't identify herself.

"In the Windsor area, the hospital does provide abortions and it seems to be able to meet the need for most people in that area," said Carolyn Egan, a spokeswoman for the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics based in Toronto. "We have not seen many women coming from that part of Ontario to the clinics that exist here in Toronto."

Although wait times for other medical health procedures in Canada can be longer, most patients don't have to wait more than one to two weeks for an abortion appointment since the majority of abortions happen in the first trimester, Millar said.

"If somebody's ending a pregnancy later on in their pregnancy, like the second trimester, third trimester, there are less medical professionals who have the training and capabilities to provide that care," she said. "That's when you can see wait times of two or three weeks or even four weeks."


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