Abortion faster safer in clinics MDs’ group says

by Robert Sutton Toronto Star, January 9, 1985

Ontario should permit abortion clinics because they allow women to have abortions earlier in their pregnancies when there far less health risk, a group representing 150 Ontario doctors said yesterday.

The Medical Reform Group of Ontario said the hospital system is “unnecessarily dangerous” because it results in lengthy delays, which increase the risk of medical complications.

“A Canadian women is less than half as likely as her American sister to receive a low-risk, under-nine-week abortion. She is 40 per cent more likely to have a high-risk, over-12 week abortion,” the group said at a Queen’s Park news conference.

“Political courage”

The four doctors at the press conference – Miriam Garfinkle, Debby Copes and John Frank of Toronto and Bob James of Dundas – estimated that between 15 and 20 clinics could meet the Ontario demand.

“It’s time for the cabinet to show some political courage,” Copes said. She added that in the meantime “it is unacceptable for the government to continue prosecuting Dr. Morgentaler after four jury acquittals. ”

The reform group, created in the late 1970s, is comprised of social activist doctors and medical students who disagree with the Ontario Medical Association ’s policies on the health care system.

Frank said women who must wait for approval from a hospital abortion committee run an increased risk of perforation of the uterus, bleeding and infection.

“In a majority ”

The Canadian Medical Association supports free-standing clinics, said Garfinkle. “I believe we represent a majority of doctors.”

The group said the Ontario government should adopt the policy of the Quebec government, which sanctions about 20 free-standing clinics even though the federal Criminal Code stipulates abortions must be done in an accredited hospital.

The doctors said they’d “like to see this as an issue” in the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership campaign.

James said the clinics should be publicly funded so “women in this difficult situation can obtain humane, competent care, medicare insured, without dangerous delays.”

The doctors said the minimum wait after the woman’s first contact with a doctor or clinic is generally two or three weeks. They represent Statistics Canada data showing the risk is increased by 20 per cent is a woman asks for an abortion at 7 1/2 weeks, but has to wait until 9 1/2 weeks before it is performed.

The risk of complication is 60 per cent more if the abortion is delayed until 11 or 12 weeks, the data said.

Related Topics: AbortionHealth Care AccessHealth Care in OntarioReproductive RightsWomen’s Health