Pro-lifers cast suspicions on abortion numbers used in study

By 
  • November 23, 2011

TORONTO - A new report says the number of abortions in Canada has fallen below 100,000, but instead of being pleased with the numbers, pro-lifers are doubting their accuracy.

Campaign Life Coalition project manager  Jack Fonseca says the studies don’t represent the national picture because there are no statistics from British Columbia, New Brunswick and Manitoba. Also, reporting is voluntary for private abortion clinics, he said.

Fonseca believes a more accurate estiamte is 106,000 abortions annually in Canada.

But the report’s conclusions on the reasons women are choosing abortion do bolster Campaign Life’s campaign to defund publicly funded abortions in Ontario. National organizer Mary Ellen Douglas said the stats uncover an alarming trend: that abortions are being used as an alternative to contraception and not as a medically necessary procedure as pro-abortion supporters claim.

“In Ontario, we pay for people to have convenient abortions,” said Douglas. “It’s (being used as) a lifestyle choice, not a medical necessity.”

According to Statistics Canada, abortions fell to 96,815 in 2005 compared to its steady climb from 1974 to 1991 when abortions almost doubled from 52,435 to 95,059 in that time period.

From 1992 to 2004, there were more than 100,000 abortions per year in Canada.

The findings of Dr. Wendy Norman on trends in induced abortion in Canada from 1974 to 2005 were recently published in the journal Contraception.

“Induced abortion is a common procedure experienced by nearly a third of Canadian women during their reproductive years,” said the report.

From 1974 to 2005, women aged 20 to 29 years old accounted for 52 per cent of all abortions in Canada.

“These findings suggest that Canadian women, particularly those in their 20s, experience significant unmet need for effective contraception,” it said.

The study suggested that the rate per capita has fallen 14 per cent since 1997 with 97,000 abortions in 2005. The most rapid decline has been among teens, with women in their 20s still accounting for close to half of the abortions.

Yet a third of middle-aged women have had abortions at least once. Thirty-one per cent of Canadian women who turned 45 in 2005 had at least one abortion, with a median age of the first abortion at 24 years old, the study found.

Since 1997, there has been a decline in overall age-specific induced abortion rates and among teenagers. Meanwhile, rates among older women have fallen as age increases.

Another study by Norman found that 40 per cent of Canadian abortions are performed on women who have had an abortion before. The study suggested that inserting IUDs (contraceptive intrauterine devices) right after an abortion could prevent the number of repeated abortions.

It notes that the leading theory on the decline in the abortion rate is better access to a wider range of contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies, half of which end in abortion.

Campaign Life Coalition is currently running a campaign to defund publicly funded abortions in Ontario. So far, the organization has collected 2,000 signatures, with the goal of reaching 10,000 signatures to be sent to Queen’s Park. A Nov. 13 rally at Queens’ Park drew close to 2,500 people.

In Canada, there are no restrictions on when a woman can get an abortion, which can include up to nine months into her pregnancy.

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