New pressure on Newfoundland and Labrador to cover abortion pill

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador — the only province that does not provide at least partial coverage of the abortion pill — is under renewed pressure to do so.

Medical students and practitioners have written an open letter to the premier and health department asking for universal coverage of Mifegymiso, as well as supportive resources for physicians prescribing the drug.

The letter is a follow-up to a meeting between medical students and Health Minister John Haggie in March.

The two-drug combination terminates pregnancies of up to nine weeks, as an alternative to surgical methods that are currently covered by the province.

Activists say the province has a unique need for the alternative abortion access.

Mifegymiso costs approximately $350, while a surgical abortion can cost as much as $1,500, not including travel costs to a clinic.

The province’s year-round abortion clinics are located in St. John’s, putting it out of financial reach for many low-income patients outside the capital.

Rolanda Ryan, owner of Athena Health Clinic in St. John’s, said her clinic has performed 1,121 procedures since Mifegymiso rolled out at the end of January last year. Fifty of those used the drug — 38 of them in 2018 as word of its availability spread.

Ryan has worked with physicians in remote communities to prescribe the drug and says her clinic is happy to provide support to any practitioners — including access to the 24-hour phone line required after taking the pill.

She said she’s not sure whether the government will fully fund the pill given its financial situation, but hopes for at least a partial coverage plan to help low-income patients access the drug.

“I honestly don’t know what the outcome will be, but it has to be in such a way that people aren’t out of pocket, or that they’re minimally out of pocket,” said Ryan.

“It has to be so that nobody falls through the cracks because of the price tag of the pills.”

Every other province in Canada now offers some coverage of medical abortions using pills, with costs varying depending on a patient’s income, private health benefits and other factors, to full universal coverage for all residents.

Just Posted

Red Deer’s Craig Schmitt placed first once again at Woody’s Marathon

When Craig Schmitt runs in the annual Woody’s RV Marathon in Red… Continue reading

Life and death: Mistake sent one family to funeral home, the other to hospital

Doctors told Jody Littlewolf that her daughter was brain dead and should… Continue reading

‘Still beautiful:’ Waterton Lakes National Park prepares for life after fire

WATERTON, Alta. — Parks Canada officials and businesses in Waterton say there… Continue reading

British royal family thanks those who celebrated wedding

LONDON — The royal family, blessed with fantastic weather and a buoyant… Continue reading

Cougar kills 1 mountain biker, injures 2nd near Seattle

NORTH BEND, Wash. — Two friends on a morning mountain bike ride… Continue reading

Red Deer Silhouettes prepare for year-end show

Synchronized swimming team will perform its last show this season May 30

One dead in collision west of Sundre

A 30-year-old Cochrane resident is dead after a single vehicle collision in… Continue reading

How a 94-year-old retiree became a gym rat

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Like many gym rats, Paul Russell lifts weights… Continue reading

‘Like a warzone:’ People evacuated as fires burn through Manitoba city’s downtown

BRANDON, Man. — Leanne Marlow saw the flames engulf the building across… Continue reading

Canadians celebrate mix of pageantry, modern twists in royal wedding

As the freshly minted Duke and Duchess of Sussex embark on married… Continue reading

Maduro favoured as Venezuelans vote amid crisis

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is expected to win a… Continue reading

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humour

SANTA FE, Texas — Hardworking. Funny. Loving. Grieving family and friends recalled… Continue reading

Record Everest climber returns, already planning next trip

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A veteran Sherpa guide who scaled Mount Everest for… Continue reading

WATCH: First Red Deer Market of the year

Hundreds came out to the first farmers market of 2018 Saturday

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month