The way Shannon Ingram remembers hearing a young woman describe her experience terminating a pregnancy has encouraged her to speak out. Ingram is a Master’s of History student at the University of Lethbridge, writing her thesis on historical abortion access.
“She was so terrified of speaking about having an abortion afterwards that I was the first person she shared her story with,” Ingram said.
According to a report from Canadians for Choice, Alberta has one of the lowest rates of hospitals in Canada providing the service.
“At the moment, I believe six per cent of Alberta hospitals provide abortion services, which is quite low considering there is no reason why every single hospital can’t provide abortions for women,” Ingram said.
Even though a recent Global News/Ipsos poll suggests 57 per cent of Canadians believe in a woman’s right to choose, the province only offers services in its two major cities.
The lack of access also has a financial impact.
“It makes it more complicated if you have children, you have to arrange care. If you work—that’s two days that you’re missing. If you don’t have a car, you have to find a way to drive up to Calgary,” Ingram said.
Ingram added wait times and a pre-determined mindset by some medical professionals also cause some women to shy away.
“Portraying your prejudices on a woman isn’t necessarily helpful. That doesn’t help anyone. What would be helpful even further, is if a clinic or hospital were to provide abortion services in Lethbridge.”
Last year the federal government approved Mifegymiso, also known as RU-486 or the abortion pill. It’s designed to terminate a pregnancy within the first 49 days.
It’s been widely available in Europe for more than two decades and in the United States since 2000. It’s expected to be distributed in Canada by the end of 2016.