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Quebec government hopes to offer abortion pill Mifegymiso for free

A shipment of Mifegymiso is pictured at the Willow Women’s Clinic in Vancouver on Jan. 20, 2017.

Ellen Wiebe/Globe and Mail Update

The Quebec government is hoping to offer free abortion pills later this year.

"We believe women in this province do have a choice," Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said Thursday.

"We've always been in favour of women having the right to decide for themselves and today we have a new option available."

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Read more: Long-awaited abortion pill Mifegymiso makes Canadian debut

Mifegymiso, a two-drug combination also known as RU-486, was authorized by Health Canada in July 2015 and entered the market in January. It costs about $300.

The drug isn't currently available in Quebec, but Barrette says he's hopeful advanced discussions with groups representing the province's doctors and pharmacists will make access a reality by this fall.

Barrette said the abortion pill shouldn't be confused with the morning-after pill. Alongside the surgical option, the abortion pill gives women another option, albeit under very strict guidelines.

It will be accessible for those with a doctor's prescription, while women taking it will need to have a medical follow-up.

The pill can be used up to seven weeks from conception so an ultrasound will be necessary to date the pregnancy.

"In order to have access to that medication, women will have to see a doctor to provide her consent to go through the procedure," Barrette said.

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"That patient will have to meet and visit with a doctor in order to give her consent to the procedure — the administration of the drug — but the drug will never be administered if there is no proof the pregnancy is under 49 days of duration."

The program will be administered by Quebec's health insurance board, which will allow for expanded access throughout the province.

In April, New Brunswick was the first province to announce it would make the abortion pill available free of charge.

Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta have also said they intend to offer the pill free of charge.

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