Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Toronto Abortion and Sexual Health Information

I was recently asked to help a friend with choosing whether to keep a foetus or to have an abortion. As a former sex and relationship counsellor, I am appalled at how bad and out-dated the advice she got was.

To my dismay, Women’s College Hospital lists RU-486 as unapproved even now, almost 4 months after its approval (cbc-ru486):20150922-Screenshot1

Turns out that this was much ado about nothing. While RU-486 has indeed been approved back in July, it will only be available starting 2016. I was unaware of that when I started writing this article, so I started a thread in the linked forum. I got the following reply on September 23:

Thank you for posting your concern about this page.  Our website is quite large and our Health writer is currently updating several pages on the website and has not reached this page yet.  We have forwarded your post to her to let her know your concern about it.
If you see other pages that need updating please sent an email to info at w—h—m—dot ca.  The Forums are for starting discussions about health issues. We have deleted your post now that we are aware of the need to update the page.

Indeed, the page was updated with the following statement, replacing the one circled in red above:

Only the first combination is currently available in Canada. The second combination, mifepristone (RU 486) and misoprostol, was approved for use in Canada in July 2015, but will not be available until early 2016.

Why is this important?

Because abortion, a simple and routine medical procedure that allows women to safely control their biology and reproductive system, has become incredibly politicized. Witness the “war on women” taking place South of the border. Most of it is attributable to uterus envy, often rationalized with demographic doom ideas and the patriotic need to have babies – something that women had to hear from fascists everywhere, even (or especially) during the 3rd Reich.

A recent PEW Research Centre study (pewrsr.ch/1jaOyQg) found that abortion is regulated / restricted around the world, with 4% of countries forbidding abortion even when the mother’s life is at risk. This is mind-boggling. A foetus (fetus) has no rights any more than an un-fecundated egg or a spermatozoid in isolation. However, I’d rather not have that pseudo-“debate” here.

While abortion is not as politicized in Canada as it is South of its border, it still is far more than it should be.

Since my friend had already decided to have an abortion, and since her reasons were sound, my job was to reassure her and help her through this difficult time. I sent her the #shoutyourabortion story.

Apart from the largely inconsequential illustrated issue, the Women’s Health website linked above provides good information. Planned Parenthood Toronto as well as Hassle-Free (link below) also have some excellent information.


The City of Toronto provides sexual health services through several clinics. They all serve women, most of them serving men as well (sho-tph).


You do not need a referral or OHIP coverage to visit a clinic.

Sexual health clinic services include:

  • STI testing and free treatment
  • HIV testing
  • Birth control counselling
  • Low cost or free birth control
  • Free condoms
  • Emergency contraceptive pill (Plan B)
  • Pregnancy testing, counselling and referrals
  • Sexuality and relationship counselling

Check below for drop-in and appointment hours.
We do our best to see every client that comes to our clinics, but due to the high demand we may not be able to see everyone.

Birth Control and Sexual Health Centre
960 Lawrence Avenue West, Suite 403
Phone: (416) 789-4541
Hours (by appointment only): Monday 2-5 pm; Tuesday 4-7 pm; Wednesday 12-5 pm; Thursday 5-8 pm; Friday 12:30-4:30 pm
*Anonymous HIV testing, including rapid HIV test.

Black Creek Community Health Centre (Sheridan Mall site)
2202 Jane Street, Unit 5
Phone: (416) 249-8000
Hours (by appointment only): Tuesday 3-4 pm
Hours (drop-in only): Tuesday 4-6 pm

Black Creek Community Health Centre (Yorkgate Mall site)
1 Yorkgate Boulevard, Suite 202
Phone: (416) 246-2388
Hours (drop-in only): Wednesday 2-5:30 pm
*New clients arrive before 5 pm.

Crossways Clinic
2340 Dundas Street West
Phone: (416) 392-0999
Hours (drop-in only): Monday 9:30-12 pm and 2-6:30 pm; Tuesday 1-5:30 pm; Wednesday 9:30-11:30 am and 1-3:30 pm; Thursday 12-4 pm; Friday 9:30-12 pm
*Rapid HIV testing is available.

Flemingdon Health Centre (The Gate)
10 Gateway Boulevard
Phone: (416) 429-4991
Hours (drop-in only): Monday and Thursday 3-5 pm
*New clients arrive before 4:30 pm.

Hassle Free Clinic (Men/Trans Clinic)
66 Gerrard Street East, 2nd Floor
Phone: (416) 922-0566
Hours (drop-in only): Monday and Wednesday 4-8 pm; Tuesday and Thursday 10-3 pm; Friday 4-7 pm; Saturday 10-2 pm
*Anonymous HIV testing, including rapid HIV test. All anonymous HIV tests are done by appointment only.

Jane Street Clinic
662 Jane Street
Phone: (416) 338-7272
Hours (drop-in only): Wednesday 2-6:30 pm; Thursday 9:30-11:30 am and 1-4 pm
*Rapid HIV testing is available.

Rexdale Community Health Centre (John Garland site)
1701 Martin Grove Road
Phone: (416) 744-0066
Hours (by appointment only): Monday 1-4 pm

Rexdale Community Health Centre
8 Taber Road
Phone: (416) 744-0066
Hours (by appointment only): Wednesday 1-4 pm
*Anonymous HIV testing, including rapid HIV test.

Rexdale Youth Resource Centre
1530 Albion Road
Phone: (416) 741-8714
Hours (by appointment only): Thursday 2:45-5:30 pm
*Anonymous HIV testing, including rapid HIV test. Clients must be 28 years old or under.

Scarborough Sexual Health Clinic
160 Borough Drive
Phone: (416) 338-7438
Hours (by appointment only): Wednesday 9:30-12 pm; Thursday 9-11:30 am
Hours (drop-in only): Monday 9:30-12 pm and 2-6:30 pm; Tuesday and Thursday 1-3:30 pm; Wednesday 2-6:30 pm; Friday 9:30-12 pm
*Rapid HIV testing is available.

Special Treatment Clinic
790 Bay Street, 8th Floor
Phone: (416) 351-3800 x2207
Hours (drop-in only): Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 5-7 pm

Taibu Community Health Centre
27 Tapscott Road
Phone: (416) 644-3536
Hours (by appointment only): Tuesday 2:30-6:30 pm

The Talk Shop
5110 Yonge Street
Phone: (416) 338-7000
Hours (drop in only): Monday and Thursday 2-6:30 pm; Wednesday 9:30-11:30 am and 1-3:30 pm
*Rapid HIV testing is available.

Hassle-Free has women-only hours, but it also has men-only hours, which is why it appears in both lists.

The following are women-only (sec-wo).
Bay Centre for Birth Control


790 Bay St, 8th floor, Toronto, Ontario, MRG 1N8

Description: Offers a range of sexual and reproductive health services for women. All services are confidential and include counselling and referral services as well as physical exams and care. More information at www.womenshealthmatters.ca/centres/sex/program.

Choice in Health Clinic


1678 Bloor Street West, Suite 301, Toronto, Ontario, M6P 1A9

Description: Women-centered pregnancy and abortion clinic. Provides full range of services for women experiencing an unwanted pregnancy including the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP). Entry by appointment only. More information at http://www.choiceinhealth.ca.

Hassle Free Women’s Clinic


66 Gerrard Street East (at Church), 2nd floor, Toronto, Ontario, M5B 1G3

Description: Sexual health clinic offering free services including check-ups and anonymous STI testing, with a focus on female health, including birth-control. Hours can be found at http://www.hasslefreeclinic.org/QuickFacts.html. More information at www.hasslefreeclinic.org.

Immigrant Women’s Health Centre


489 College Street, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario, M6G-1A5

Description: A community-based non-profit agency serving immigrant women, refugee women, and women of colour. Provides comprehensive clinical and counseling services; free of charge, no OHIP required. More information at http://www.immigranthealth.info.

Women’s Health in Women’s Hands


2 Carlton Street, Suite 500, Toronto, ON, M5B 1J3

Description: Clinic is “committed to providing community, mental and clinical health promotion support from an inclusive feminist, pro-choice, anti-racist, anti-oppression, and multilingual participatory framework. We work with immigrant and/or refugee women, women with disabilities, young women and older women in Toronto. Within these groups, the Centre prioritizes low-income Black women and women of colour.” Offers testing and treatment for STIs, pap smears, HIV/AIDS services, and a wide array of pregnancy support services. http://www.whiwh.com/index.htm.

While providing free counselling, free condoms and free pregnancy tests, the clinics above provide other contraceptives at low prices, such as:

  • Alesse $8.00
  • Evra Patch $11.00
  • Marvelon 28 $19.00
  • Minovral $8.00
  • NuvaRing $15.00
  • Tri-Cyclen Lo $8.00
  • Liberte IUD $60.00
  • Mona Lisa 3 or 5 year IUD $60.00
  • Mona Lisa 10 year IUD $70.00
  • Plan B $12.00

Obviously, the prices might change and might vary between clinics, although as far as I can tell they all have the same prices. Some clinics will only accept cash.

Despite having been around for many decades, and having revolutionized society since its introduction, the pill is still not widely understood. Here are some advantages:

  • Your period is very regular. You might not bleed as much during your period.
  • The birth control pills that have estrogen and progesterone lower your chances of getting cancer of the ovaries and the endometrium. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus.
  • You may skip menstruation altogether.

..or you may tell your significant other the above..

While you can find a lot of information online, it is probably best to make an appointment – it’s free!

Sources / More info: wh-forum, cbc-ru486, inbo-abortion, sho-tph, sec-wo, TO-clinics

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