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N.S. clinic will no longer offer free contraceptive devices as funding runs out

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A health clinic in Halifax is no longer able to provide contraceptive implants, like IUDs, and other devices for women’s health for free because donations have dried up.

The QEII Reproductive Options and Services (ROSE) clinic is one of few clinics in Nova Scotia that offers free contraceptive implants and devices for women. However, on Friday, they administered their last one.

“Anyone who would like this type of IUD and don’t have coverage, unfortunately, we will have to tell them we don’t have it,” said ROSE clinic’s medical co-director, Lianne Yoshida.

Yoshida said the ROSE clinic sees four-to-five women weekly. In the past, it was a norm for women who couldn’t afford this type of health care to leave with just a prescription.

“When they get their prescription they then do their best to get the funds to fill the prescription and then find a doctor to insert the IUD or implant,” she said.

However, in a province with lengthy waitlists, Yoshida said it is another barrier finding a doctor to insert it.

The contraceptive implants and devices prevent unplanned pregnancies and helps with other medical issues related to menstrual cycles. For people without coverage, accessing this type of health care costs up to $400.

“For women and other people with uteruses to have barrier-free access to contraception and for so many Nova Scotian’s, paying out of pocket is a huge barrier,” said Kari Ellen-Graham, pharmacist and co-chair of Access Now Nova Scotia Coalition.

The clinic has offered these options since 2011 all through donations acquired from the QEII Foundation.

The foundation said it has received $240,000 over the years toward reproductive health. However, recently it reached a lull where people did not make any donations.

“It’s really a health equity issue and we know that not everybody has benefits. Not everybody has the ability to pay for the kind of contraception that works for them,” said Susan Mullin, QEII Foundation president and CEO.

Advocates believe this shortfall underscores the urgent need for bigger budgets.

“It is a really big call to our government to step up and enact its own provincial plan as he did with diabetes,” said Ellen-Graham.

Last week, the federal government announced universal access to contraception in the Pharmacare Program. Health-care professions and advocates hope the provinces sign on to the program.

In a statement to CTV News, Nova Scotia’s Department of Health and Wellness said Nova Scotia’s Pharmacare Program currently covers contraception prescriptions and that it will be speaking with the federal government about the federal bill.

“We understand Health Canada will be reaching out in the next two to four weeks to the provinces and territories and we will actively participate in those discussions," the statement read. 

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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