Medication Abortion in Canada: A Right-to-Health Perspective

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Medication Abortion, Abortion Care, Public Health, Right To Health, Mifepristone, International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, International Obligations, Canada


The right to health under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, to which Canada is a signatory, entitles women to available, accessible, and acceptable abortion care. Abortion care in Canada currently fails this standard. Medication abortion (the use of drugs to terminate a pregnancy) could improve abortion care in Canada, but its potential remains unrealized.

This is in part attributable to the unavailability of mifepristone, the safest and most effective pharmaceutical for medication abortion. Given that it could improve abortion care, we investigated why mifepristone remains unapproved in Canada, whether its unavailability is attributable to government inaction, and whether Canada is therefore failing to fulfill its obligations under the right to health.


Requests for reprints should be sent to Joanna N. Erdman, JD, LLM, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, 78 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C5, Canada (e-mail:

Copyright © 2008 by the American Public Health Association