Abortion in Nova Scotia: Defining and Operationalizing Access
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It has been over thirty years since the decriminalization of abortion across Canada, however, many in need continue to face barriers accessing the healthservice (Erdman, 2017). Maritime provinces are known across the literature to have poor access to abortion services (Eggertson, 2001; Sethna & Doull, 2012; Sethna & Doull, 2013), yet little academic research has been conducted on the state of abortion acesss within the Nova Scotian context. This study seeks to provide an overview of the current state of abortion access across the province, identify prevalent barriers that impede patient access to abortion services and review the effectiveness of guiding legislation and policy, such as the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness’ Framework for a High Perfoming Health and Wellness System (NS DHW Framework) and the Canada Health Act (CHA), in operationalizing access to healthcare services such as abortion. Barriers present within the current operations of the public healthcare system were identified by study participants as the most prominent barriers to abortion access in Nova Scotia. The study also identified significant disparities in abortion access between those living within rural and urban areas of Nova Scotia. Study participants made several recommendations to improve abortion access across the province, the majority of which concerned changes to be made within the current opertations and policies of the public healthcare system in Nova Scotia. The lack of primary care physicians across the province directly contributes not only to the poor access of abortion services but of all healthservices across Nova Scotia. Future studies concerning patient-identified barriers to abortion services specifically focused on marginalized populations are recommended for developping a better understanding of abortion access across Nova Scotia.