A free pill is the first step of many towards making abortion accessible

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As of this past August, the abortion pill Mifegymiso is now a free prescription medication in Ontario. Although the once $300 pill becoming free under the Ontario Liberal government is an important step forward for reproductive rights and accessibility, there are still more obstacles to overcome.

Before this decision, legal abortions available in Ontario were invasive procedures that were only available in a small number of Canadian hospitals. With this new access to Mifegymiso, former barriers of living far away from the nearest hospital or clinic that perform abortion procedures have been removed.

Even though it retails at $300, Mifegymiso is less expensive than the cost of a surgical abortion. A surgical procedure either in a hospital or women’s clinic requires a blood test, local anesthesia, qualified medical staff to perform the procedure and a prescription for antibiotics to prevent infection afterwards. Having a single prescription that induces miscarriage on its own is less of a burden on the Ontario healthcare system than the alternative surgical procedure.

Despite these advantages, the decision to make Mifegymiso free has been met with criticism. For example, the thought that making it more accessible will increase the number of abortions that take place. When it’s made legal, it’s statistically proven that abortion rates go down. Instead of increasing the amount of abortions in Ontario, the pill will make the process of getting one much fairer and safer for those who have already made a decision.

Just because abortion is legal, it doesn’t mean that getting one is easy to do, or an easy decision to make. Since Mifegymiso will be a prescription drug, it’s still up to a doctor or nurse practitioner whether or not to prescribe it.

Women who make the decision to have an abortion don’t do it lightly. Currently, these women are frequently labeled as being selfish and made to feel both guilty and ashamed for doing what they believe is right. Making abortion more accessible and providing different options to women who decide to have one is one way to de-stigmatize the process, allowing the decision to remain as private as possible.

Dispensing Mifegymiso at no cost will get Ontario that much closer to reproductive freedom, but there is more work to be done to make it a reality for all Canadians.

— Journal Editorial Board

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