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An Open Letter to British Columbia’s Minister of Health: Abortions are inaccessible for Northern B.C. Women

September 23, 2021
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Dear Minister Dix,    

Canadian women are outraged for our American sisters in Texas after the recent US supreme court decision to allow a Texas law effectively banning abortions. While abortions are legal in Canada, we must alert you to the fact that for many rural women in British Columbia, especially poor and Indigenous women, abortions are inaccessible. This is particularly acute for surgical abortions, which are required for terminating pregnancies after 9 weeks, as they are only offered by select healthcare centres, hospitals, or private clinics.

Earlier this year, the last doctor who was able to perform surgical abortions left the Terrace Women’s Wellness Clinic. In recent weeks, we provided women from Kitimat money for travel expenses because they were no longer able to access surgical abortions in Terrace, B.C. Women in Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Smithers and the surrounding communities now need to drive 7 hours to Prince George in order to access an abortion past 9 weeks of pregnancy and up to 12 weeks. If a woman in Northern B.C. needs an abortion after 12 weeks, she must travel all the way to Vancouver. We cannot tolerate this situation.

Women’s access to abortions, like access to contraception and freedom from forced sterilization, are not only key to women’s reproductive health, but to women’s ability to determine their own lives and women’s equality in Canada. The NDP promised British Columbians “faster, closer and more personalized care” just last year. We call on you to live up to this commitment and make abortion truly accessible to all women in British Columbia by ensuring that every hospital is able to perform surgical abortions and by covering travel expenses for women seeking an abortion outside of their community in full.

Respectfully,

Sophia Hladik on behalf of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter

cc: Mr. Ellis Ross, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Skeena District, British Columbia

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