Canada should prepare for a potential increase in medical tourism as abortion becomes banned in some US states, say activists and doctors offering the service.
The United States Supreme Court ruled on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that upheld the constitutional right to abortion. The decision is expected to result in the banning of abortion in about half of the states, including some along the Canada-US border.
The decision has raised concerns among some abortion advocates about the impact a possible influx of pregnant people from the United States could have on the Canadian system.
But the option to come north for an abortion is limited to people who can afford it, noted Jill Doctoroff, executive director of the National Abortion Federation of Canada.
The effort and expense of obtaining a passport and traveling to Canada is likely to be prohibitive for the marginalized people most affected by U.S. abortion bans, including those who suffer from poverty and systemic racism, a observed Mrs. Doctoroff. Many people may decide it’s more convenient to travel to a US state where abortion is still legal, she said.
“People who tend to be involved in (medical) tourism are often really privileged people,” Ms Doctoroff said by phone from Victoria. These are the kind of people I think could come to Canada to get an abortion.”
But even that small number could pose a problem for clinics that are already running out of capacity, and potentially prolong wait times, Ms Doctoroff pointed out.
Dr. Dustin Costescu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Hamilton Health Sciences, says provinces should increase funding for abortion clinics to ensure they can meet this potential increase in demand.
“If a significant minority chooses to come here (from the United States), very quickly the system could be overwhelmed,” Dr Costescu said. Now is really the time to prepare for that.”
The Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg has already begun to prepare for this possibility, said executive director Kemlin Nembhard.
The clinic already treats a handful of people living in the United States each year, and Canada shares a border with several US states that plan to ban or severely restrict access to abortion, Nembhard said.
The clinic already performs more abortions than the number for which it receives funding, she added, and it plans to extend its opening hours if demand increases.
“We have contingency plans in place,” Ms. Nembhard said. But we can’t really put them into action until we actually see what’s going to happen.”
– With information from The Associated Press
The article Overthrow of Roe c. Wade: Will we see ‘abortion tourism’ in Canada? appeared first on Le Canada Français.