Termination of Pregnancy/Abortion in Canada

Information on who to contact and how to proceed in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. Also information on family planning clinics...

Since the Supreme Court decision of R v Morganteler in 1988, abortion in Canada has no legal restrictions, as a matter of law and is considered an inherent right under the Canadian constitution.

Getting an Abortion

Once a woman has made a decision to have an abortion it is important to choose the right clinic or hospital. Factors to consider when selecting where to have the operation are:

  • Whether the provider is licenced by the province/territory and therefore, whether the operation is free of charge
  • What methods of abortion does the provider offer
  • Will the staff complete a pregnancy test prior and explain the process of the operation
  • Whether there are adequate emergency facilities located at the clinic or close by
  • The follow up care that will be provided

Once a clinic or provider has been selected, make an appointment to consult with the medical staff, ask questions and clarify the costs, as there may be variables including extra costs for differing blood types or method of abortion.

For assistance and support call the National Abortion Federation:

Minors

In most provinces/territories, women under the age of 18 need some form of parental consent prior to obtaining an abortion.  However, this requirement may be by-passed with the involvement of the courts (if required).

All that is currently required is either parental consent from one or both parents or parental notification (that the abortion is going ahead).

Cost

Abortions throughout Canada are funded by Canada's health insurance system (Medicare) and are provided upon the request of the patient, if they are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Accordingly, provinces/territories are expected to cover the costs of abortion if requested and there are currently over 105,000 abortions performed in Canada every year.

The exception to complete cover by the tax payer exists in New Brunswick, where abortions in public hospitals are fully covered, but abortions in private hospitals are not covered at all. Additionally, abortions are not currently performed on Prince Edward Island.

Abortion methods include surgical (generally before 20 weeks), or medical abortion. Abortions may be performed after 20 weeks, but only under extraordinary circumstances. Medical abortion must take place before seven weeks of pregnancy and is brought about by taking medication to terminate the pregnancy. However, the latter is not commonly used in Canada as it takes a longer period of time and may be less effective.

Emergency Contraception Pill ("Morning-After Pill")

An emergency contraceptive pill (ECP), often referred to as the "morning-after pill", can be obtained over the counter and is available from pharmacies. It should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex and within five days to be effective.

Family Planning Clinics in Canada

There is currently no national Family Planning facility operating in Canada and clinics are run locally and independently.  However, Health Canada provides information about sexual health and well-being and where to obtain information for family planning centres.

Further Information