The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed a woman's right to choose abortion in 1973, and the courts have upheld the core of that finding in subsequent cases. In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws prohibiting abortion. But access to abortion has been severely eroded. The most recent survey found that 87% of all U.S. counties have no identifiable abortion provider. In non-metropolitan areas, the figure rises to 97%.1 As a result, many women must travel long distances to reach the nearest abortion provider.
But distance is not the only barrier women face. In the U.S., many other factors have contributed to the current state of abortion access, including a shortage of trained abortion providers; state laws that make getting an abortion more complicated than is medically necessary; state and federal Medicaid restrictions; and fewer hospitals providing abortion services.
In Canada, even though there is no law restricting abortion, access to abortion care remains a problem for many women. There is a shortage of trained abortion providers; abortions are not fully funded in all provinces and territories; funded abortions are unavailable in some areas, there is no inter-provincial billing for abortions; and in some provinces there are limits on the number of abortions allowed in facilities in a given year
In addition, women from diverse backgrounds face unique cultural and information barriers to obtaining information about pregnancy options and safe, high-quality abortion care. Many also lack knowledge about navigating the health care system or are unaccustomed to and anxious about interacting with health care professionals.
As the professional association of abortion providers, we are committed to making information about abortion options and access to abortion care available to all women. Women's access to abortion care has been severely eroded due to many factors including government restrictions and lack of funding. More
On May 24, 2006, NAF wrote a letter of protest (PDF file, 45K) to the Minister of Health of New Brunswick expressing concern over the termination of abortion services at a major hospital in Fredericton and that Canadian province's failure to fund abortion services as required by the Canada Health Act.
NAF's Access Initiative Project was created specifically to address the escalating problem of limited access to abortion. Increasing access begins with training more clinicians to provide abortion services and extends to fighting restrictions in legislatures throughout the country. More
- Finer LB, Henshaw SK. Abortion incidence and services in the United States in 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2003, 35(1):6-15