A review of therapeutic abortions and related areas of concern in Canada

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2012 Jun;34(6):532-542. doi: 10.1016/S1701-2163(16)35269-0.


Objective: To review the legal status of abortion and its prevalence, safety, and accessibility in Canada and to highlight related areas of concern.

Methods: We conducted a review of research literature, published reports, websites, and articles in order to describe abortion services and associated issues such as access, availability, and safety in Canada.

Results: Therapeutic abortion is often the result of unintended pregnancy. Even so, emergency contraception may not be accessible for all Canadian women, and effective contraception is underutilized. In Canada, abortion has been decriminalized and is generally safe, but current reports of prevalence and complication rates are inconsistent. Abortion rates appear to be decreasing. Medical or surgical termination of pregnancy is available and often publicly funded. However, barriers related to time, cost, travel, and regional disparities hamper unrestricted access to therapeutic abortion in this country, and although the place of abortion in medical education remains controversial, current curriculum content appears to be inadequate.

Conclusions: The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada states that comprehensive family planning services, including therapeutic abortion, should be freely available to all. The Canadian Medical Association affirms that induced abortion should be uniformly available to all women. In Canada, the issues related to therapeutic abortion access, availability, and safety must be addressed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / adverse effects
  • Abortion, Induced / education
  • Abortion, Induced / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Canada
  • Contraception, Postcoital
  • Education, Medical
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Refusal to Treat