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This article was published 20/7/2017 (1319 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Manitoba government says it will cover the cost of the abortion pill Mifegymiso when administered in specified health-care facilities.
Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for the status of women, said Thursday that Manitoba has added the drug to the province's formulary.
Two locations in Winnipeg -- the Women's Clinic and Health Sciences Centre -- and one in Brandon that currently provide surgical abortions, will be allowed to offer medical abortions using Mifegymiso free of charge to clients.
Doctors at other locations will be able to administer the drug after undergoing a six-hour training program. However, women may have to pay some or all of the cost, unless they are are on social assistance.
"Today we’re not talking about expanding the service (abortion); we’re talking about enhancing the choices (between medical and surgical abortion)," Squires said in an interview.
"What you can appreciate is our government didn’t want to be compelling other institutions or regions or even doctors to be providing and expanding abortion coverage," she said.
Health Canada requires physicians to take a six-hour online course before prescribing Mifegymiso to patients.
"The specific site of care, in a clinic, rural community or urban centre, will be determined as the number of physicians trained to provide this treatment increases," Squires said.
Mifegymiso will be an eligible benefit through pharmacare. Women who choose to access the drug through a family physician or specialist will not have to pay for the drug if they have reached their Manitoba pharmacare deductible, Squires said.
"Once the drug is a pharmacare benefit, women on Employment and Income Assistance will have access to treatment at no cost," she said.
In March, the first medical abortion in Manitoba using Mifegymiso was performed at Health Sciences Centre. The drug was approved for use by Health Canada two years ago.
Mifegymiso consists of a pack of six pills, with two mifepristone tablets to be taken under doctor supervision and four misoprostol tablets to be taken at home the next day. A prescription costs $350.
The Manitoba NDP had been calling on the province to make the drug available to women across the province at no charge.
NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine said the government has failed to take into account the needs of women and girls living in The North.
"They’ve created a two-tiered accessibility plan for Manitoba women," she said.
"I want to see it fully paid for regardless of whether or not you have pharmacare, regardless of whether or not you are on social assistance. If you are a Manitoba woman or girl and you choose to have an abortion, and you want to have access to the abortion pill, you should be able to access that totally free."
Four other provinces are already doing that, Fontaine said. Alberta is set to join Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick as the provinces that will cover the cost of the drug and make it readily available.
Fontaine accused the Pallister government of having a poor record on women’s health, citing the closure of the Mature Women’s Centre and the firing of lactation consultants at the Women’s Hospital.
Mifegymiso is listed by the World Health Organization as an "essential medicine," she said, and the Pallister government should be doing more to make it generally available.
"This pill can be a game changer for women, but it is beyond the scope of many doctors and clinics, particularly those in rural and remote communities, to stock and dispense this essential medicine," she said.
Meanwhile, Squires said the province will review its policies regarding Mifegymiso in six months time.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.