BY ANDREW BENNEY
Women across the country will soon have another choice in terms of abortion, with the long-expected arrival of an abortion pill.. This new non-surgical option for Canadian women, which has been delayed since November, comes in the form of the pill, Mifegymiso, which was approved by Health Canada in July 2015.
The exact date of the release is still unknown, but the Canadian distribution company responsible for the drug, Celopharma Inc., said that sometime this month is still the anticipated time frame, despite unforeseen changes to the products’ manufacturing site.
Mifegymiso, also commonly referred to as RU-486, will be a large step forward for pro-choice advocates in Canada, once introduced. With only one in six Canadian hospitals offering access to abortion services, making a new method available for doctors to prescribe will allow more women across the nation to get the aid they need, when they need it.
Canada’s Minster of Health, Jane Philpott, acknowledged that Canadians need other methods, saying, “abortion services remain patchy in parts of the country, and rural women in particular face barriers to access.”
Medical abortions have been available in Canada for a number of years, but due to the procedures requiring what would normally be unrecommended doses of drugs, many doctors would not provide the service. Now, they will be able to prescribe a medically tested and sanctioned method, thereby increasing the availability for women in need.
The pill, which must be prescribed by a medical professional and taken within the first seven weeks of pregnancy, is actually administered through two different stages occurring on different days. The first stage involves taking a dose of mifepristone, a drug which blocks the effects of progesterone, a hormone that is needed for pregnancy to continue. The second stage occurs one or two days after this with the ingestion of four tablets of misoprostol, which essentially begins the process of a miscarriage.
Mifegymiso is accompanied by a steep $300 price tag, and a number of fairly common side effects, but has already been available in other countries for over 20 years and is now used in 60 more around the globe.
This is both a terrific new option for Canadian women as well as a benchmark in the fight for choice.