Ottawa Researchers to Study Abortion Issues in the Yukon and Nunavut

University of Ottawa researchers are seeking women who have had an abortion within the past ten years in the Yukon or Nunavut. Their goal is to document women’s experiences obtaining the procedure and to gain insight into how those services can be improved. The Ottawa researchers will use the information gathered from these Northern women as part of a broader national study. Jennifer Cano, the study’s administrator, hopes to hear from women in both rural and urban communities. She aims to “get a range of participants” to determine how experiences vary because of the additional medical travel required in the territories.

Obtaining an abortion in the territories is often an arduous task requiring considerable travel and long delays in service. As Taryn Turner, a reproductive health expert in the Yukon, asserted, “there are certain things here that are still different [from] elsewhere. You still have to get your abortion done in a hospital” which can take longer than at a clinic. Jan Stick, the New Democratic Party’s caucus critic for the Departments of Health and Social Services, and Economic Development, said that researchers would likely hear about study participants’ privacy concerns. Stick also noted that women in outlying Yukon communities must sometimes take numerous trips to Whitehorse for abortions and ultrasounds. Moreover, she explained, these lengthy trips are sometimes for naught because “abortions will be bumped for emergency surgeries because [they have] to be done in a surgical unit at the hospital.”