How late in a pregnancy can an abortion be done?
An abortion should be done as early as possible. Medical abortions can only be performed until 8 weeks of pregnancy, and surgical abortions can be performed as late at 20 weeks in Ottawa, depending on where you go. Most abortions are done during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy because they are safest then. Sometimes abortions are done as late as 20 weeks, but this is very rare. Even more rarely, abortions are performed past 20 weeks, but only under extraordinary circumstances. In Ottawa, you can have an abortion performed at the Riverside Hospital under 20 weeks. If you require an abortion past this, we can refer you to Toronto, London, or Montreal.
Are abortions safe?
Abortions are very safe. In fact, 1st trimester abortions are very low risk procedures and have one of the lowest surgical complication rates of all surgeries performed in Canada. Statistics Canada reports that in 1995, fewer than 1% of abortions in Canada resulted in any complication at all.
Is it legal to have an abortion?
YES. Abortions are legal in Canada. You can have an abortion at either a hospital or an abortion clinic.
Do I have to pay for the procedure myself or is it covered under my health plan?
Surgical abortion services are fully covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Other plans that cover this service include:
- University Health Insurance Plans (UHIP)
- Interim Federal Health (IFH)
- Canadian Military Insurance (DND)
Medical abortion is partially covered by OHIP. Doctors’ appointments are covered but the medications for the procedure (around $60) are not covered by OHIP or most private insurance companies.
If you live in a province other than Ontario, your provincial health care insurance should cover you for services in your area. Currently the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick only cover services performed in hospitals under their provincial health care plans, and do not cover services in private clinics.
For out-of-province patients (people who live in one province but are seeking abortion services in another province, for whatever reason) there may be fees associated with this service, due to provincial billing guidelines.
If you do not have any health insurance or are unsure of your coverage, please do not hesitate to contact Planned Parenthood Ottawa to discuss your options and what resources may be available to you.
If I have an abortion can I still have children later on?
Yes. Women who have an early abortion are just as likely to have a healthy baby in the future as women who have not had an abortion.
There is no research or statistical data to support the belief that having more than one abortion will damage or affect fertility.
Will anyone find out if I have an abortion?
Hospitals and abortion clinics are bound by the Ontario Privacy Act and all regulations governing patient confidentiality. Any appointments or procedures you inquire about, book, or carry out are completely private and confidential.
Is an abortion painful?
The discomfort associated with an abortion will be different for each person. In general, medical abortions can cause cramping that can be controlled with regular painkillers (Tylenol, Advil, etc.). Surgical abortions are performed under anesthesia (local or general), which keep you from feeling the procedure as it is happening.
Most people who have abortions feel cramps (like strong period cramps) for a short time. If needed, the doctor can give you extra medication for the pain.
Do I need a doctor’s referral to book an appointment?
No, you do not need a doctor’s referral to make an appointment. You can make the appointment at convenience and at your request.
Is there a waiting period before I can have my procedure?
No, in Canada abortion is available upon request. There are no regulatory waiting times in place to prevent or restrict access to abortion services.
Do I need a parent’s or partner’s consent to have an abortion?
No, you do not need parental or partner permission to have an abortion in Ontario.
How long will the appointment take?
This depends on what kind of abortion you’re having. If you’re having a medical abortion (by medication), you’ll need an appointment for an ultrasound, to do bloodwork, and to have a short medical exam (sometimes all three of these can be done at once, sometimes they need to be done separately). If you’re having a surgical abortion, generally the appointment process takes approximately 2-3 hours, with the actual abortion procedure taking approximately 5 minutes. Depending on where it takes place, it may be necessary to go in for an additional appointment the day before your surgical abortion.
What should I bring to my appointment?
You should bring photo identification, your provincial health card, and any supplementary insurance cards you may have, such as Ontario Works, O.D.S.P., Native Status, or any private insurance plans. Some clinics may ask that you bring a long nightshirt or gown, this can be confirmed when booking your appointment.
Can I bring someone with me?
Yes, you are allowed to bring one escort with you into most facilities. That person may be required to show photo identification. However, due to safety and privacy protocols that person will not be able to accompany you into the medical area.
How should I get to the appointment?
If you’re having a medical abortion, you’ll be able to drive yourself to and from the appointments, and will not be required to have someone with you. Taking a bus, walking, or taking a taxi are also fine.
If having a surgical abortion, patients cannot drive to or from an appointment for an abortion. It’s recommended that you arrange for a trustworthy friend or partner to assist you in getting to and from your appointment. Alternatively, you might be able to take public transportation, however you will not be allowed to leave via public transportation unless you have a support person with you (a child isn’t an acceptable support person, though a mature teenager may be). Other places may require that you leave by car or taxi.
How do people feel emotionally after an abortion?
In general, women choose abortion because being pregnant is not the right choice for them at that time. Most women feel relief after their abortion and are satisfied that they have made the right decision. Some women feel sad or emotional for a few days or weeks afterwards and may find a supportive friend or counselor very helpful at this time.
Researchers have found that having an abortion does not make women feel negatively about themselves in the future.
What are my options besides abortion?
You could choose to continue the pregnancy, with the options of parenting or adoption. Remember, it is your decision – not your partner’s or anyone else’s. Planned Parenthood Ottawa can provide support to help you make the best decision for you.
Do many people have abortions?
Yes. An estimated 1 in 3 women will choose to have an abortion at some point in her life.
Where can I go for more information or counselling?
Here are some people you could ask for information about pregnancy or abortion:
- Planned Parenthood Ottawa
- Your city public health unit
- A women’s health centre
- A family doctor or school nurse
Warning: There are some people (even some doctors and nurses) who don’t want any women to have an abortion, for any reason whatsoever. Some pregnancy centres exist to try to talk youth out of having an abortion. The information they provide about abortion may not be correct. So, be careful. Do not let anyone pressure you into making a decision that is not right for you. Make sure you get the facts you need from the people you can trust.