The Canadian Drug Expert Committee of the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health recommended in its new report that Canada's taxpayers pay for abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. Photo/Pixabay

Abortion drugs should be publicly funded, report recommends

  • April 26, 2017

OTTAWA – A public agency has recommended that Canada’s taxpayers foot the bill for the abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol.

The Canadian Drug Expert Committee of the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) released its recommendation April 18 and it will now be up to the provinces to decide whether to cover the costs under their health plans. The drugs, taken in combination under the name Mifegymiso, cost $300, according to the report.

Campaign Life Coalition has been warning people about the effects of abortion drugs, formerly known as RU-486, since the late 1990s.

“We are not surprised, but we remain very disappointed,” said Johanne Brownrigg, in charge of government relations at Campaign Life’s Ottawa office. “There isn’t a province in the country whose health care system is not under tremendous pressure to deliver health care. Funding this drug just takes that money away from real health care needs.”

The CADTH review bases its conclusions on studies that showed the drugs result in successful abortions 95-97 per cent of the time. Mifegymiso was approved by Health Canada in 2015 after it had already been introduced in dozens of other countries.

Brownrigg noted the duration of the CADTH studies was less than six weeks.

“It’s disheartening that a study that was shorter than six weeks is going to be the basis for a seismic shift in abortion delivery in Canada,” she said.

New Brunswick and Alberta plant to offer the drug at no charge.

The CADTH report reveals almost all women in studies aged 14 years old and up seeking an abortion experienced adverse effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and thermoregulatory symptoms, but these are known side effects of prostaglandins, it says. No deaths or withdrawals were reported, but in one study, 11 per cent of the women experience extreme adverse events including “heavy bleeding, fainting and lower abdominal pain requiring hospitalization and dilation and curettage.”

The study showed, however, the cost of a chemical abortion is actually higher — by almost $80 — than the cost of a surgical abortion by a vacuum aspirator in a clinic, though about $400 less expensive than an abortion in a hospital.

The abortion drug is approved for use and available in some places in Canada, including Ontario.

Health Canada is “trying to maintain the highest standard,” she said, and its monograph says the abortion drugs should only be dispensed by physicians at their offices. But the monograph is not legally binding, she said, and there is pressure from pro-abortion groups to make the drugs available through pharmacies.

A uterine, rather than an ectopic, pregnancy must be confirmed, and there must be follow up visits to a doctor, Brownrigg said. “The idea this is a panacea for rural and remote women who have a crisis pregnancy is a lie.”

Campaign Life Coalition Youth has released a video campaign on social media under the hashtags #RU-486 and #RU-CRAZY to raise awareness of the dangers of the abortion drugs. Marie-Claire Bissonnette, coordinator of Campaign Coalition Youth, is also giving talks on the subject. Campaign Life has fought against the abortion drugs since 1996, and made the 2014 National March for Life theme RU-4-LIFE, Bissonnette said.

They have posted a series of short videos that deal with specific aspects of the drug and its potential harms, she said.

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