Abortion has been recognized internationally as an essential health service. The geographical distance to an abortion provider is acknowledged as a major barrier to access. This pilot study tracks women's journeys to the Toronto Morgentaler Clinic for abortion services.
A questionnaire was developed specifically for this study and was administered over a four-month period to women using abortion services at the clinic. Questions asked for demographic information and details of the costs, distances, and women's experiences of their journeys to the clinic.
A total of 1022 of 1256 surveys were completed for an overall response rate of 81%. The majority of women in the sample (54%) were 21 to 30 years old, had a partner (55.8%), were employed full time (50.5%), and had an income of less than $30 000 per year (68.2%). Most women had travelled an hour or more to the clinic (73.5%), and the remainder had travelled for less than half an hour. Women reporting incomes of less than 30,000 dollars were more likely than wealthier women to have travelled from 200 km to more than 1000 km (OR 1.74; 95% CI 1.16-2.71). Women who were under the age of 30 were more likely to rate their journey as difficult or very difficult (OR 1.68; 95% CI 0.98-2.88).
More research is needed to determine how far women must travel for abortion services in Canada and to determine the wider health, political, and legal implications of these journeys.