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Abortion

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An abortion is the ending of a pregnancy. In a spontaneous abortion, commonly called a miscarriage, the embryo or fetus is spontaneously expelled from the woman’s uterus. In a therapeutic abortion, the embryo is removed or expelled from the woman’s uterus, depending on the procedure. There are two types of therapeutic abortion:

Is it legal to have an abortion?

Yes. Abortions are safe and legal in Canada. You can have an abortion at either a hospital or an abortion clinic.

How late in a pregnancy can an abortion be done?

An abortion should be done as early as possible. The earlier an abortion is performed, the lower the chance that complications will arise. Most abortions are performed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes abortions are performed as late as 20 weeks, but this is very rare. Even more rarely, abortions are performed past 20 weeks, but only under extraordinary circumstances.

If I have an abortion can I still have children later on?

Yes, women who have an early abortion are just as likely as women in general to have a healthy baby in the future. With the exception of rare and serious complications, safe and legal abortions do not affect fertility.

How much does an abortion cost?

Abortions at a hospital are covered under provincial government health insurance Abortions are also covered at abortion clinics in Ontario, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Alberta. At abortion clinics in other provinces, you must pay some part of the cost. Women who wish to have an abortion in PEI are required to go outside of the province.

Do I need a parent’s consent to have an abortion if I am under a certain age?

It depends. In Canadian law, there is no age of consent for abortions. However, each hospital has a different policy regarding parental consent. An abortion can be performed at a clinic without a parent’s consent, if it is clear that the youth understands what she is doing. Doctors often encourage youth to tell a parent, guardian or another adult that they trust.

Hospitals, clinics, and health insurance plans are obligated to keep the names confidential of all women who have abortions.

Where can I go for more information or counseling?
  • Your local member of the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health
  • A pro-choice women’s health centre
  • City or county public health unit
  • Family doctor or school nurse

Not all family doctors, school nurses or public health units are pro-choice. If your practitioner is not pro-choice, ask that they refer you to someone who is. See our tips for finding a reliable counseling centre .

The more questions you ask, the more informed you will be.

How do I get an abortion?
  • If you live in a city with an abortion clinic, or if your hospital has a women’s health centre, you can call them directly for an appointment.
  • Call the National Abortion Federation’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-772-9100 to locate a clinic near you.
  • Visit an online listing of Canadian abortion providers.
  • Contact one of organizations or people listed under the previous heading.

Choosing between medical and surgical abortion

Some women prefer medical abortion because they:

  • find it less invasive
  • feel it is similar to having a miscarriage
  • feel more in control of the process.

However, medical abortions involve more bleeding and cramps than surgical abortions and usually take longer to complete.

Some women prefer surgical abortion because they:

  • want the reassurance of having medical professionals in the room with them when the abortion takes place
  • are worried about how long a medical abortion will take
  • are nervous about potential side effects of the medications.

Updated June 2, 2008

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