Faculty of Medicine researchers have received $3.8 million from the Government of Canada to address barriers to abortion access for underserved populations.
The funding is part of a $4.2 million investment through Canada’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Fund announced today by the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health.
UBC’s Contraception and Abortion Research Team (CART) and its partners will leverage the funding to develop informational resources for patients from underserved populations and to create a new national training platform for healthcare professionals that will build expertise in providing de-stigmatized and contextually appropriate abortion care for populations facing systemic barriers.
“UBC-CART and our 56 investigators and partner organizations across the country are thrilled to receive the support of Health Canada to undertake this project,” said principal investigator Dr. Wendy Norman, a professor of family practice at UBC and CART co-director and founder. “We aim to improve equitable, accessible abortion care throughout Canada, particularly for groups that are currently underserved.”
While barriers to abortion access vary from coast to coast to coast, they include a lack of availability, a lack of financial and logistical resources required to travel to access abortion care, and a lack of culturally-safe, stigma-free sexual and reproductive health services. Previous experiences of discrimination within the health care system also create access barriers for minority and marginalized groups, such as Indigenous and racialized people, members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities, and youth.
The UBC project will build on CART’s existing virtual Community of Practice platform to create a national, open-source training resource hosted by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. The platform will support healthcare professionals with mentorship, education resources, practice-support and patient-support tools that are tailored to address the needs of diverse underserved populations.
CART is further coordinating 10 sub-projects by health professional, academic, and community organizations to improve equitable access to abortion care. At the end of this one-year project, CART will host a national summit knowledge mobilization meeting bringing together all project components and collaborators with stakeholders to leverage dissemination across organizations and develop strategy to sustainably improve access to abortion for underserved groups.
“Bringing together experts and health professional organizations for nurses, midwives, pharmacists, physicians, social workers and doulas we are creating an exciting range of health professional resources and trainings,” added Dr. Norman, who holds the CIHR-PHAC applied public health chair in sexual and reproductive health. “We are interlinking this with cutting edge supports and tools to assist anyone seeking an abortion to access acceptable, appropriate and high-quality abortion care closer to home.”
Another component of the project will create and distribute a patient decision aid for use by people seeking an abortion. The decision aid will include a range of context-oriented, cultural- and language-adapted videos and other resources to support underserved populations to access appropriate abortion information.
“We aim to improve equitable, accessible abortion care throughout Canada, particularly for groups that are currently underserved.”
Dr. Wendy Norman
The Sexual and Reproductive Health Fund was created to support a wide range of evidence-informed and innovative projects for people in Canada who are at increased risk for poorer sexual and reproductive health outcomes, including members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities, Indigenous and racialized people, women and youth.
In addition to the UBC project, the Government of Canada is providing $428,236 to Action Canada to expand its Access Line and Sexual Health Information Hub programs.
“We know that women across Canada face barriers when accessing abortion services – such as the cost of travel, cultural stigma, and difficulties accessing accurate information,” said the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth. “This is why it is critical that we continue to work with organizations like Action Canada UBC, to make sure that underserved women have access to safe abortion services, wherever they live.”