With the recent disheartening Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision released this morning (June 24, 2022) overturning the American case of Roe v Wade, it is extremely important to highlight access to abortion and reproductive healthcare in Nova Scotia.
LEAF, the Women’s Legal Access and Education Fund, has published information on abortion access current to May 2020. Their document Access to Choice: The Legal Framework for Abortion Access in Nova Scotia has both legal arguments for, and information about, understanding and accessing abortion healthcare in Nova Scotia. Additionally, Nova Scotia Health has a page for those seeking counselling and/or abortion healthcare in the province.
There is room, however, to expand and improve abortion access across the country. Under Canadian law, in fact, abortion is not a constitutionally enshrined right. This CTV article illustrates how abortion access is restricted even in Canada, indicating that:
“A UN Human Rights Commissioner’s Report noted a lack of access to abortion in Canada and called on the government to redress inequities, and since COVID-19 ravaged the country’s health-care systems, waiting lists for almost all services including abortions have become beyond sustainable.”
Among other accessibility issues, it may be challenging for those living in rural areas to access abortion services. One of the biggest obstacles people face when trying to access abortion healthcare, however, is knowing how to access it. This healthcare is not publicly advertised in Canada, and many do not know that referrals are not required. People in Canada are legally able to obtain an abortion, but in reality, getting one might have them battling many obstacles including location, whether they are insured, racism in healthcare, and a host of others.
Not only must abortion rights not be taken for granted, but they should also be widely accessible. Having the legal ability to obtain an abortion is the first essential step, but having the ability to access, as well as knowing how and where to access this care is just as critical.
June 24, 2022
This article is written by LISNS 2022 summer law student intern, Meghan Recker. LISNS would like to thank LEAF for allowing us to reference their Access to Choice information on abortion access in Nova Scotia.