When non-resident patients seek abortions in Canada

June 2024

CMPA members – We’ve heard your concerns

The CMPA recognizes the significance of the recent United States Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Roe v. Wade decision and its impact on the ability of patients to access abortions in the U.S. It is possible that some American patients will seek abortion services in Canada, given that several states have taken steps to restrict access to abortion.

We’ve heard from some of you, asking about the medico-legal implications of physicians in Canada providing abortion services for patients who are not residents of Canada, and inquiring about the Association’s assistance.

Providing urgent or emergent care?

Physicians have a duty to provide urgent and emergent care to all patients, including non-residents and medical tourists. It does not matter why the patient is in Canada.

CMPA will generally assist you in the event a medico-legal case is brought in Canada or outside of Canada in response to urgent or emergent care.

Extent of CMPA assistance

If you have provided care in Canada and a medico-legal matter is brought against you in Canada (e.g. through Canadian courts or medical regulatory colleges), you are eligible for our assistance.

The CMPA is structured to provide assistance in Canada, not in other jurisdictions, such as the U.S. If a matter is brought against you in the U.S., you are unlikely to be eligible for our assistance. We therefore encourage you to consider whether you need to obtain additional liability protection for medico-legal matters brought in the U.S. if you wish to provide this service to American patients coming to Canada.

How to manage the risks related to a U.S. legal proceeding

One way to reduce this risk is to make reasonable efforts to complete the CMPA’s Governing Law and Jurisdiction Agreement before providing treatment for a non-resident patient. This agreement increases the likelihood that a matter will be brought in Canada, where CMPA assistance will generally be available.

Other risks:

The CMPA is aware that some states are contemplating legislation that would potentially allow for criminal charges and civil legal actions to be brought against healthcare providers who provide abortions to residents out of the state (even where the care is delivered outside of the state). If this legislation is implemented, physicians in Canada who provide abortions for American patients from states where abortion is illegal and where such legislation exists could face criminal charges/civil actions in the U.S. The CMPA is not structured to provide advice on U.S. law. Members who have questions about U.S. laws related to the delivery of abortions are encouraged to seek out guidance from legal counsel in the U.S.

We’re here to help

We hope this information provides the clarity you need to make informed decisions amid these rapidly changing circumstances. If you have additional questions or concerns: