Exploring the impact of COVID‑19 on abortion care in Canada: A mixed-methods study dedicated to service delivery and utilization
Evidence shows that the public health emergency restrictions imposed due to the COVID‑19 pandemic have resulted in a decreased access to sexual and reproductive health services, in general, and abortion care, in particular. In Canada, the federal government reaffirmed at the outset of the pandemic that abortion care is an essential health service. As a result, a number of facilities around the country adopted new and innovative models of abortion service delivery, including telemedicine services and no-touch/no-test protocols, to reduce the risk of COVID‑19 exposure while maintaining the availability of care. However, other facilities and clinicians were unable to provide continuous care. The economic and social disruptions caused by the pandemic also influenced pregnant people’s decision-making and timely access to abortion services. Drawing from health services data, case studies with providers, and interviews with people who sought or obtained an abortion, our goal is to document the impact of COVID‑19 on abortion care in Canada, identify innovations in service delivery, and explore how racism, colonialism, and linguistic hierarchies shaped access to care, reflected and/or perpetuated health disparities, and inspired resilience. In partnership with clinicians and advocates, this mixed-methods initiative aims to promote access to equitable and high-quality abortion services during the ongoing pandemic as well as help ensure the continued availability of abortion care in the face of future public health emergencies.