Women across Ontario can now theoretically get the abortion pill Mifegymiso for free — but physicians warn there are still major barriers to access.

The Ontario government had first promised to publicly fund the medication, also known as RU-486, in its spring budget, saying it wanted to provide women with more autonomy around their reproductive health, especially those living in rural communities who had to travel hours for surgery.

Women with a valid health card and prescription from a doctor or a nurse practitioner can get it for free at pharmacies that stock it.

But Health Canada forbids doctors from prescribing the medication without first performing an ultrasound on the patient, something that requires both the equipment and the specialized training to operate it.

"I haven't really seen a lot of rural family practitioners who do bedside ultrasounds in their clinics, so that would be a limiting factor," said Dr. Kaitlin Dupuis, a physician with Planned Parenthood Toronto. "I would say the idea is great, but there's logistical stuff that still needs to be worked out."

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