Doctors should stop the "demeaning" practice of supervising a woman while she swallows the Mifegymiso abortion pill, a professor says.

Dr. Wendy Norman teaches at the University of British Columbia and chairs family planning research for the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

She said a myth exists that physicians are required to watch a patient ingest mifepristone — one of a two-drug combination packed together as Mifegymiso, for medical abortions.

"The evidence is clear that having the practitioner observe the woman is demeaning. It's inappropriate. There's no other medication where the practitioner is required to observe a normal healthy woman taking a medicine," said Norman, adding that methadone may be the only exception.

Saskatchewan's College of Physicians and Surgeons — the licensing body for doctors — issued a statement to members in the spring clarifying that a physician is not required to watch a patient ingest the medication and patients have a choice to take the medication in a doctor's office or at home.

Despite that, physicians at the Regina General Hospital who prescribe the medication are instructed to watch women ingest the medication.

"The requirement to watch a patient take the medication has changed, however our protocol is that the patient is watched by the physician," Anne Lindemann, Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region spokesperson, wrote in a recent email to CBC.

"This is one clinic's process of how Mifegymiso is accessed by patients in Saskatchewan. How other private medical offices choose to administer I am not entirely sure of."

Norman said that's "absolutely astounding."

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