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In Ontario, there are only 38 hospitals and clinics that provide abortion healthcare, serving a population close to 15 million people. However, these services are primarily located in urban centres, while rural populations face significant barriers in accessing even basic healthcare.
The added transportation costs, the necessity to take time off work, and lodging costs pose major financial obstacles that can make abortion inaccessible for women living far from major cities.
Jade, a doula in Huron East, told North Star that "in southern Ontario, it's tricky. When living in a rural area, hospital access can be few and far between... People have to commute for healthcare, and this can become a big problem during winter storms [or] road closures"
"It's not just about abortions." When asked why barriers to basic healthcare even exist, she explains that "it ain't a lack of funding...these pharmaceutical companies hold a monopoly in the hospital, they wanna keep women coming back again and again."
Kelsey, an activist with Huron Perth Mutual Aid for Choice adds that "people go to the hospital expecting to get an abortion, isn't that supposed to be okay in Canada? It's still so early on, and now they're saying no and trying to talk you out of it. Alone, with no options in your city, what do you do? Can you find a ride to another town? Is there enough time left?"
Small cities don't fare much better. Although there is no abortion services (including no pills) at the Stratford hospital, there are plenty of 'crisis' pregnancy centres funded by anti-choice organizations in the county.
"You know, you go in there, it seems like a health care clinic that will give you options, but you can't get reliable information on abortions, and they will try to talk you out of it. There's serious money involved in funding these anti-abortion centres." Kelsey tells the North Star.