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Nova Scotia women will get free access to abortion pill Mifegymiso

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WATCH: The provincial government announced on Friday that women with a valid health card and prescription will receive Mifegymiso, commonly known as the abortion pill, at no cost. Marieke Walsh has the details – Sep 22, 2017

Nova Scotia women will be able to get the abortion pill for free beginning in November.

The provincial government announced on Friday that women with a valid health card and prescription will receive Mifegymiso, commonly known as the abortion pill, at no cost at pharmacies across the province. The drug is taken to medically terminate a pregnancy of up to 49 days.

READ MORE: Abortion wait times in Nova Scotia ‘unconscionable’: advocate

Earlier this summer, sexual health advocates in Nova Scotia called for the government to make the move, following decisions by Ontario and New Brunswick to fund the drug.

Up until now, Mifegymiso was available in Nova Scotia and covered by some private drug plans, at a cost of about $300.

“We’re supporting more choice for women when it comes to their reproductive health,” said Kelly Regan, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women in a news release. “This will ensure all Nova Scotia women have access to this option.”

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WATCH: Sexual health advocates push for ‘abortion pill’ coverage by Nova Scotia government

Click to play video: 'Sexual health advocates push for ‘abortion pill’ coverage by Nova Scotia government' Sexual health advocates push for ‘abortion pill’ coverage by Nova Scotia government
Sexual health advocates push for ‘abortion pill’ coverage by Nova Scotia government – Aug 9, 2017

According to the province, the drug must be prescribed by a physician and an ultrasound will be needed to confirm gestational age, as well as rule out any health risks.

Private insurance will be used first to cover the drug, before government coverage is accessed. The province estimates it will cost between $175,000 to $200,000 per year to offer the coverage.

READ MORE: Still no sign of ‘abortion pill’ funding in Nova Scotia

As well, the province says a physician’s referral will no longer be needed to obtain a surgical abortion at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.

Kim Munroe, the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s director of ambulatory care, says the QEII has same-day appointments for any woman who requires an abortion.

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“We are actually setting up a self-referral process as well, which will go hand-in-hand with this, but we currently provide same-day appointments for women who require an abortion service.”

Nova Scotia has been the only province in Canada that requires women to obtain a referral.

The health authority will be setting up a phone line for women to make appointments and ask for advice and the province says additional staff will be hired at the clinic to support the self-referrals.

READ MORE: How the ‘abortion pill’ Mifegymiso could change reproductive health

In a news release, the chair of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women said she was happy with government’s decision.

“I’m pleased to see that government is acting to offer women in Nova Scotia more choice,” said Michelle Kelly.

“Providing universal coverage for Mifegymiso and improving access to abortion services are positive steps forward for Nova Scotia women.”

Women in Ontario were able to get the abortion pill for free with a prescription as of Aug. 10 at participating pharmacies with a valid health card and prescription.

READ MORE: New Brunswick makes medical abortion pill free to patients with Medicare card

Earlier this month, it was made available under Saskatchewan’s prescription drug plan, with the cost based on women’s individual drug coverage and eligibility through benefit programs.

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New Brunswick and Alberta also cover Mifegymiso, and the Quebec government has said it hopes to do so.

With files from The Canadian Press

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