Alabama recently signed a bill this week that, if enacted, would completely ban abortions in the state unless the woman's life is in danger. Prior to that, the states of Georgia, Ohio, and Mississippi have introduced "heartbeat bills" which would prevent women from getting an abortion if a heartbeat can be detected, which can happen as early as six weeks. In this report, we'll examine how Canadian abortion laws differ by province and how they compare to the new anti-abortion laws in Alabama.

All these changes in the US have prompted a global abortion debate that is raising questions for Canadians as well.  Here at home, there are different abortion laws by province in Canada, but the question remains, are they now at risk of changing? Especially since some Canadian politicians have called to ban abortions in parts of Canada. 

In Canada, some forms of abortion have been legal for 50 years, after the Liberal government permitted limited abortions in 1969. At the time, abortions could only be performed if a committee of doctors determined that the woman's life or health would be endangered by continuing her pregnancy. 

However, outside of that very limited scope, abortion was still illegal until a constitutional challenge in 1988 called R. v Morgentaler. That case determined that the abortion being illegal in Canada violated women's rights to "life, liberty, and security" which is covered by Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That decision by the Supreme Court made it so abortion was considered a medical procedure and governed by the provinces.

While abortion is legal everywhere in Canada, there are some major differences between all the provinces including what services are covered, where abortions can be performed, and most notably, how late in term abortion can occur. Here is how abortion laws break down by province and territory in Canada, according to the National Abortion Federation of Canada.  

British Columbia

Abortions in BC can be carried out up to 23 weeks and six days into a pregnancy. Anyone with provincial coverage under the MSP can get the cost of the drug used in medical abortions, Mifegymiso, covered. The provincial plan also covers the cost of abortion services in hospitals and clinics.

In BC, there is also zone legislation that prevents protesters from being too close to abortion clinics.  

Alberta 

Abortions in Alberta can be carried out up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. Anyone with provincial coverage under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan can get the cost of the drug used in medical abortions, Mifegymiso, covered. The provincial plan also covers the cost of abortion services in hospitals and clinics.

In Alberta, there is also zone legislation that prevents protesters from being too close to abortion clinics.  

Saskatchewan 

Abortions in Saskatchewan can be carried out up to 18 weeks and six days into a pregnancy. The provincial health plan covers the cost of abortion services in hospitals and clinics. Saskatchewan also pays for women to go to two clinics in Alberta to access abortion services. 

Manitoba

Abortions in Manitoba can be carried out up to 19 weeks and six days into a pregnancy. The cost of the drug used in medical abortions, Mifegymiso, covered at the clinic and the two hospitals that perform abortions. The provincial health plan also covers the cost of abortion services in hospitals and clinics.

Ontario

Abortions in Ontario can be carried out up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. Anyone with provincial coverage under OHIP can get the cost of the drug used in medical abortions, Mifegymiso, covered. The provincial plan also covers the cost of abortion services in hospitals and clinics; however, some clinics are not covered and will charge for uninsured services. In Ontario, there is also zone legislation that prevents protesters from being too close to abortion clinics.

Ontario recently enforced a policy that requires doctors to refer patients to abortion services even if they don't morally agree with them. 

Quebec

Abortions in Quebec can be carried out up to 23 weeks into a pregnancy. Anyone with provincial coverage under the Quebec-Health Plan can get the cost of the drug used in medical abortions, Mifegymiso, covered. The provincial plan also fully funds the cost of abortion services in hospitals, CLSCs, and clinics.

In Quebec, there is also zone legislation that prevents protesters from being too close to abortion clinics.  

New Brunswick

Abortions in New Brunswick can be carried out up to 16 weeks into a pregnancy. Anyone with provincial coverage under the New Brunswick Health Insurance can get the cost of the drug used in medical abortions, Mifegymiso, covered. The provincial plan also covers the cost of abortion services in hospitals and clinics, but there is a clinic in Fredericton that isn't government funded and patients there have to pay for the procedure out of pocket. 

Nova Scotia

Abortions in Nova Scotia can be carried out up to 16 weeks into a pregnancy, based on an ultrasound result. Anyone with provincial coverage and a Nova Scotia health card can get the cost of the drug used in medical abortions, Mifegymiso, covered. The provincial plan also covers the cost of abortion services in hospitals and clinics. 

Prince Edward Island

Abortions in PEI can be carried out up to 12 weeks and six days into a pregnancy, which is one of the shortest time periods in Canada. The cost of the drug used in medical abortions, Mifegymiso, covered only when it's accessed through the Women Wellness Program at Prince County hospital. The provincial plan also covers the cost of abortion services in hospitals and clinics. 

Newfoundland

Abortions in Newfoundland can be carried out up to 15 weeks into a pregnancy. The provincial health plan covers the cost of abortion services in hospitals and clinics. In Newfoundland, there is also zone legislation that prevents protesters from being too close to abortion clinics. 

Yukon

Abortions in Yukon can be carried out up to 12 weeks and six days into a pregnancy, which, like PEI, is among the shortest time frames in Canada. The territorial health plan covers the cost of abortions in hospitals. The plan also covers travel to out of territory places for abortion services after 12 weeks. 

Northwest Territories

Abortions in the Northwest Territories can be carried out up to 19 weeks and six days into a pregnancy. The territorial health plan covers the cost of abortions in hospitals. The plan also covers travel to out of territory places for abortion services after 20 weeks. 

Nunavut

Abortions in Nunavut can be carried out up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, which is the shortest time frame in Canada. The territorial health plan covers the cost of abortions in hospitals.

Compared to recent legislation enacted in the United States, Canada's abortion access and laws provide a much bigger window of time for accessing abortion services and more financial and emotional support to women who access these services. However, there's a chance it could all be changed.

Ever since abortion was decriminalized MPs have been tabling bills to limit abortion in Canada, especially in the past 10-15 years. For example, since 2007, bills and motions regarding abortion in some manner have been brought forward by Ken Epp, Maurice Vellacott, Rod Bruinooge, Stephen Woodworth, and Mark Warawa, all of whom are male and members of the Conservative Party. While none of them have passed, this shows that it's still a topic of debate. 

Most pressingly, Conservatives in Ontario, including 21-year-old Sam Oosterhoff recently attended a pro-life rally and vowed to make abortion "unthinkable" in our lifetime. Meanwhile, Andrew Scheer, the leader of the federal Conservatives who is running for Prime Minister, has publicly stated that he is pro-life but has not commented on whether he will re-open the abortion debate.

It's not just Conservatives and it's not just men. Across the country, BC Liberal MLAs Rich Coleman and Laurie Throness also spoke out at "March For Life" rallies in BC last week. Coleman reportedly stated that abortion is "totally wrong" and Throness said, "I love the pro-life movement".

Now, 50 years after abortion was decriminalized in Canada, with these debates being reignited across North America, the future of abortion access in Canada remains in question. 

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