In Northwest Saskatchewan, physician Darcie McGonigle is used to treating a variety of patients with all kinds of needs.
However, there is one procedure that she and other health professionals outside of Saskatchewan’s major cities cannot perform.
“We can’t provide surgical abortions here,” said McGonigle, who practices on Île-à-la-Crosse. “We don’t have an operating room; there are limitations as to why we can’t offer that here, but there are certainly other parts of the province that can.”
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Women can get a medical abortion by taking mifegymiso up to 10 weeks gestation. Once they are out of that window, a surgical abortion is performed which can only be done in Saskatoon or Regina. McGonigle calls this a big barrier.
“There are still a lot of pockets in rural communities that might not have family doctors offering medical abortions in their local town,” McGonigle said. “There may not be a pharmacy to take you (mifegymiso), so they may have to travel for that”
Those barriers have been a hot topic this week since it was hinted that the US Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade.
It’s a decision that, according to Heather Hate, executive director of Saskatoon Sexual Health, is a transnational movement.
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“We know that when sexual and reproductive health needs are not met, people are deprived of the rights to make critical decisions about their own bodies, futures with cascading impacts on the well-being of their families and future generations,” he said. Hale.
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Abortions have been legal in Canada since 1969 and will remain so. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to access one, especially in Saskatchewan.
“In Saskatoon, a person can have a surgical abortion up to 12 weeks and in Regina, they can have a surgical abortion up to 19 weeks,” said Angie Kells, executive director of the Saskatoon Abortion Support Network.
The nonprofit organization provides peer support for people before, during, and after an abortion.
She has seen firsthand how far people go for sexual health care, such as driving hundreds of miles across Saskatchewan.
“We need people to be able to access abortion across the same boundaries across the province,” Kells said.
That message is repeated throughout Saskatchewan.
“All women should have access to this regardless of their geographic location,” said McGonigle.
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