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Medical Reform urges Peterson to establish abortion clinics

February 12, 1988


The Medical Reform Group of Ontario today urged the Government of Ontario to establish free-standing clinics in which women could receive high-quality, compassionate care regarding unplanned pregnancy. Dr. Mimi Divinsky, a Toronto general practitioner, said that the recent supreme court decision could be a hollow victory for Ontario women if the government does not fund free-standing facilities.

The Supreme Court clearly said that abortion was a medical procedure and that the decision should be left to a women and her physician. Therefore, abortion services should be as available as any other medical services.

The Ontario government has said that it will pay the OHIP physician fee for abortions performed outside of hospital but they have not yet decided whether to pay for a clinic's overhead (such as equipment, support staff and rent). Dr. Divinsky said that it did not make sense to pay for an overnight hospital stay, an operating room, and all the additional costs of hospital care when the total costs would be much lower in a clinic. She noted that the Powell Report, commissioned by the Ministry of Health and submitted in January, 1987, said that existing services are costly but provide inadequate counselling and support. Dr. Divinsky said that women must have compassionate counselling to assist them in making their own decision about an unwanted pregnancy. Contrary to popular belief, existing clinics do not 'pressure' a woman to have an abortion, but rather help her to make her own choice. The Powell Report also said that abortions could be safely performed outside of hospital and recommended the establishment of a network of women's health centres.

Dr. Divinsky said that the Peterson Government had won a large majority partly because of their move to improve accessibility to medical services. She said that it would be hypocritical and contrary to the spirit of the supreme court decision to erect artificial barriers to women receiving this most important health service.
The Medical Reform Group represents 200 Ontario doctors.

For further information contact:
Dr. Mimi Divinsky
Dr. Michael Rachlis

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