Abortion Clinics Are Better and More Cost-Effective Than Hospitals

Media Release — For Immediate Release November 29, 2002

VANCOUVER — Romanow’s report on the future of healthcare completely overlooks the valuable role of private abortion clinics in delivering quality, cost-effective healthcare to women. Abortion clinics provide superior services when compared to hospitals, and at a much lower price, says the Pro-Choice Action Network (Pro-CAN).

“The average cost for an early surgical abortion at a private abortion clinic is about $500, while the cost for the same abortion at a hospital can exceed $1000,” said Joyce Arthur of Pro-CAN. “Hospitals have bigger bureaucracies and more overhead. Most use general anesthesia for abortions, while clinics use less expensive local anesthesia and conscious sedation. Abortion clinics deliver more ‘bang for the buck’ than hospitals.”

Arthur noted that hospitals require a doctor’s referral, but at clinics, women can simply call and make an appointment themselves. “That’s a huge benefit for a procedure as personal and private as abortion,” said Arthur. “Also, many hospitals have longer waiting lists for abortions than clinics, which is unacceptable because later abortions carry greater medical risk.”

Abortion clinics also help overcome the politicization of abortion by being woman-centred. “Women may not get much privacy in hospitals, and often there’s no counseling, either,” said Kristen Gilbert, another Pro-CAN spokesperson. “At clinics, women are professionally counseled by non-judgmental staff.”

Finally, Romanow seems to have confused private clinics with “for-profit” clinics. Most abortion clinics in Canada are private or semi-private, but most are also non-profit because they receive public funding from the province. The only clinics that are forced to charge patients directly are in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Manitoba. “Some provincial governments refuse to fund clinic abortions in violation of the Canada Health Act because of an anti-abortion bias,” said Gilbert. “Profits are not the goal of these clinics—their goal is to provide quality abortion services to women under Medicare.” She noted that all provinces have deemed abortion to be a medically necessary service, meaning it must be fully funded.

See fact sheet below for a detailed list of reasons why clinics are better than hospitals for delivery of abortion services.


Pro-Choice Action Network, Vancouver, BC.
Tel: 604-736-2800
Email info@prochoiceactionnetwork-canada.org

Fact Sheet

Why Clinics are Better than Hospitals for Abortion Services

For provision of abortion services, clinics are generally superior to hospitals because:

  • Abortions are significantly more expensive in hospitals. An early surgical abortion at a clinic costs between $450 and $550, while the same abortion at a hospital can be estimated at about $900 to $1200.
  • Hospitals have longer waiting lists, sometimes 6-8 weeks. Every week of delay increases the medical risks to women by 20 percent. Abortions at clinics are more timely. Also, clinic procedures help free up hospital surgery time and resources, shortening the wait for other vital surgeries for women.
  • Hospital abortions require a doctor's referral. Since some doctors are anti-choice and may refuse to help, this forces women into a game of Russian Roulette when it comes to finding a doctor. Many women don’t even have a family doctor. At clinics, women can simply call and make an appointment themselves.
  • Many hospitals impose some restrictions on abortion services, such as quotas, an illegal two-doctor approval process, a 12-week gestational limit, or parental consent for surgery on minors (with no exception for abortion).
  • Hospital abortions pose a slightly higher medical risk to women due to the use of general anesthesia. Clinics use local anesthesia and conscious sedation, which also shortens recovery time and is less expensive.
  • A 2001 study demonstrated a lower risk of medical and psychiatric complications after abortion in Ontario clinics as compared to Ontario hospitals. See “Health Services Utilization After Induced Abortions in Ontario: A Comparison Between Community Clinics and Hospitals”, American Journal of Medical Quality, Vol 16, No. 3, June 2001.
  • Hospitals tend to have a sterile, non-supportive environment, and women have little or no privacy. Women may also be confronted with unsympathetic or even anti-choice medical staff. In contrast, staff at clinics are required to be pro-choice, compassionate, and non-judgmental. Since they specialize in abortion services, they are also highly skilled.
  • Hospitals do not provide any pre- or post-abortion counselling. A woman may get some counselling from her doctor, if she's lucky, but all clinics provide full, professional counseling, as well as referrals to parenting or adoption resources upon the woman’s request.
  • Hospitals can easily fall victim to anti-abortion politics. At least half of all hospitals in Canada don't even provide abortion services, even though it's one of the most common surgical procedures performed. Because of politics, the delivery of hospital abortion services is unstable, at risk of being withheld, restricted, or discontinued. No other medically necessary procedure is subject to such fluctuating uncertainties.