CFPC statement re Globe and Mail coverage of abortion drug access

July 18, 2019

The College of Family Physicians of Canada is greatly concerned with how our organization, and members, have been misrepresented in recent articles published in the Globe and Mail regarding access to the abortion pill, Mifegymiso. For this reason, we are responding to the Globe and Mail to share our concerns in collaboration with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA), which was also misrepresented in the articles. We want to make you aware of the steps we are taking to clarify their options in prescribing Mifegymiso as well as the College’s mandate that is focused on family physician training and continuing professional development.

The CFPC clarified its core mandate and responded appropriately to the time-sensitive inquiries by the Globe and Mail’s reporter. We were disappointed that an incomplete picture of physician education, and misrepresentation of information were published. In addition, the CPSA was portrayed as opposed to the CFPC, which is not the case.

Since the abortion drug was approved for use in 2017, the CFPC’s activities to support members have included:

Membership on the Contraception & Abortion Research Team (CART-GRAC), a CIHR-funded team led by Dr. Wendy Norman.  Through CART, it supports the Canadian Abortion Providers Support (CAPS) online community at www.caps-cpca.ubc.ca

Promotion of a certified, bilingual online course, the Medical Abortion Training Program. 

Hosting and promoting a webpage with comprehensive information and links for family physicians interested in abortion care

In 2016, the CFPC issued a formal statement to recognize abortion as a medical procedure that is safely and routinely provided in Canada and further acknowledges the rights of Canadian women to have access to safe abortion services. 

As an organization that sets standards for postgraduate residency education, the CFPC asserts the importance for family physicians to be knowledgeable and competent in providing patient-centered whole person care including counselling a woman about options and assisting in her decision making related to abortion care.

In 2018, the CFPC responded to an advocacy effort by family medicine residents to explore the current state of postgraduate residency education in abortion care.  A needs assessment has been completed with departments of family medicine and development of a national resource is underway. We acknowledge that ongoing updates must continue to ensure information is up to date for family medicine residency programs.

With respect to the accusation that the CFPC prevented the National Abortion Federation from presenting at FMF, you need to know that an abstract was not submitted, nor was a separately certified workshop created.

The CFPC appreciates the support from the CPSA to collectively address this media issue and supportive comments received from our partners. Lastly, although we want to inform you about our concern with the quality of reporting on this issue, our President, Dr Paul Sawchuk and I acknowledge that we have further work to do in this area, and our patients and communities can rely on us to do an excellent job of it. We remain committed to supporting our members, and, by extension, their patients to ensure quality health care.

Sincerely,

Francine Lemire, MDCM, CCFP, FCFP, CAE, ICD.D
Executive Director and CEO
College of Family Physicians of Canada

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