Abortion & you

Despite the available resources, there are still barriers to getting an abortion

The Sexual Health Resource Centre (SHRC) offers abortion information and an abortion accompaniment service where an SHRC staff member will escort you to the Women’s Clinic.
The Sexual Health Resource Centre (SHRC) offers abortion information and an abortion accompaniment service where an SHRC staff member will escort you to the Women’s Clinic.

Even though abortion was made legal in Canada in 1988 it has remained a taboo topic. With ongoing debates about the morality of terminating pregnancy, it’s no surprise many women are still uncertain where to go or what to do when they decide to have an abortion. In Canada, abortion is safe, legal and available upon request. In Kingston, the only abortion service available is the Women’s Clinic of Kingston General Hospital (KGH). Any patient who goes into Health Counselling and Disability Services, KGH or the Sexual Health Resource Centre (SHRC) requesting an abortion will be referred to the Women’s Clinic.

At Queen’s, the SHRC offers abortion information and abortion accompaniment service where an SHRC staff member will accompany you to the Women’s Clinic at KGH.

“We will answer any questions they have regarding their pregnancy, and if we do not have an answer we will refer them to someone who will,” said Melissa Gibaldi, executive director of the SHRC. “We are a non-judgmental organization. We like to be seen as peers with knowledge who can refer you on to the services and assistance that you need. People usually have their research done before coming to us. They just want to know who to call.” Gibaldi said if KGH’s Women’s Clinic cannot accommodate the patient in time she may be referred outside Kingston to clinics in either Ottawa or Toronto.

Patients also have the option of a medical or surgical abortion, she said. Medical abortions are performed up to seven weeks into the pregnancy, and can be done in the privacy of your own home. A waiver must be signed saying that if the medical abortion is unsuccessful, they must receive a surgical abortion because medical abortions cause fetal deformities. Gibaldi said surgical abortions are performed at seven to 15 weeks into the pregnancy.

“Surgical abortions are usually more favored by doctors since they are more efficient and do not require a follow up,” she said. “They are more common and now standard at most institutions. Almost all abortions are performed before the pregnancy reaches the 10-week mark.”

Stephanie Brown, assistant director of the SHRC, said the types of treatments used depend on the institution you choose to use.

“Institutions have their own policies and guidelines for details of procedures that vary slightly, such as use of anesthetic, counseling requirements, medical versus surgical abortions, etc,” she said.

Joan Wright, manager and nurse at the Morgentaler Clinic in Ottawa, said their clinic doesn’t offer medical abortions, as they can be provided by any physician.

“Surgical abortions done at clinics require one two-to-three hour visit, the procedure itself lasting about five minutes,” she said. “The procedure is safe and simple.”

Wright said the length of time a patient has to wait depends on the time of year, and how many other options are available in the surrounding areas.

“We are busiest right after Christmas and before New Years,” she said. “It may stay busy for the following two-to-three months, then it will gradually decline followed by a quiet spell in the spring.”

Wright said accommodations will be made if a patient is above 12 weeks in their pregnancy. When wait times are too long, they may be referred outside of the clinic.

Abortions are covered by Ontario Health Insurance Plan for Ontario residents and University Health Insurance Plan for international students, Wright said. Out of province students may have to pay up to $500 to have the procedure done in Ontario.

Wright said counselling is not provided by the SHRC or at abortion clinics but patients can be referred to a counselling service by both.

“We offer information, support and clarification,” she said. “We must be aware that patients may possibly be coerced. We want to make sure that they are peaceful with their decision.”

Despite the available resources, Wright said it’s still challenging for a woman to go about having an abortion.

“There are a lot of challenges for a young person making the first step,” she said. “That’s the hardest part. Our culture does not support the moment where they realize they have to have an abortion.”

Sexual health resources

Kingston Crisis Pregnancy Centre
Free and confidential services for women who are pregnant or who may be pregnant.
Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Located in St. Paul’s Church, 137 Queen St.

Sexual Assault Centre Kingston
(24-hour support)
1-877-544-6424 (toll free)

Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS)
LaSalle Building, 146 Stuart St.
Appointments: 613-533-2506
Nurse Line: 613-533-6859

KGH Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Program
Provides 24-hour medical and nursing care, testing for STIs, HIV and pregnancy, forensic evidence collection and documentation and crisis counselling. Clients are asked to come to KGH, Hotel Dieu or Lennox & Addington County General Hospital and request the SADV nurse on call.
76 Stuart St.
613-549-6666 ext. 4880

Sexual Health Resource Centre (SHRC)
Confidential, non-judgmental space for sexual health information and products.
JDUC, Room 223
Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Sexual Health Clinic, North Kingston Community Health Centre
400 Elliot Ave.
Provides testing for STIs and anonymous testing for HIV.
Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

KGH Women’s Centre
Kingston General Hospital
Birth control information, options and counselling for women considering abortion and abortion services.
613-548-3232 (ask for Women’s Centre)

Kingston Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-Identified Association (KLGBTA)
Monday to Friday 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Lesbian and Gay Youth Phone Line
Sunday to Friday 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The Ottawa Morgentaler Clinic
Offers a wide range of abortion care and related services, including counselling, contraceptive education and testing for STIs. The clinics perform abortions for women who are approximately 7–15 weeks pregnant.
65 Bank Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5N2
Nurse line: 613-567-8300
Appointments: 613-567-3360

The Toronto Morgentaler Clinic
727 Hillsdale Avenue East
Toronto, Ontario
M4S 1V4 416-932-0446
24 hour information extension 7009
24 hour address and directions info extension 7013
Appointments extension 444

—Madison Bettle, Angela Hickman and Carolyn Flanagan

Sources: clubs.myams.org/shrc, morgentaler.ca

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