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Medicolegal and Professional Obligations

Canada is the only developed nation without any laws regulating abortion.  In Canada, abortion is a legal procedure performed exclusively by physicians.  There are, however, professional policies on the subject of abortion.

Regardless of your personal feelings about abortion, it is important that you are aware of your professional obligations with respect to options counselling.  There are two specific documents you should be aware of:

1)     The Canadian Medical Association Code of Ethics (.pdf file)

2)     Canadian Medical Association Policy on Induced Abortion (.pdf file)

Read these documents before proceeding – it is important that you are aware of your professional obligations.


What is the first responsibility listed in the CMA code of Ethics?


What is General Responsibility number 12 in the CMA code of Ethics?


What does the CMA policy on Induced Abortion say about the duration of time from unwanted pregnancy to abortion?

It takes an average of three weeks between the time of a positive pregnancy test and the date of the abortion [1], and that the primary risk factor for obtaining second-trimester abortion is delay caused in the first trimester   (e.g. finding a clinic, transportation, obtaining leave from work, child care, etc) [2] .  Because second-trimester abortions have a greater complication rate than first-trimester procedures, physicians have a responsibility to reduce these barriers.


1. Finer, LB, Frohwirth, LF, Dauphinee, LA, Singh, S, Moore, AM. "Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States" 2006. Contraception 74:334-344

2. Drey, EA, Foster, DG, Jackson, RA, Lee, SJ, Cardenas, LH, Darney PD. "Risk Factors Associated With Presenting for Abortion in the Second Trimester." 2006. Obstetrics and Gynecology 107:128-35

All references for this section