A recent Angus Reid Global poll shows 59 per cent of Canadians are “fine” with no law restricting abortion, contradicting LifeCanada’s consistent polling results since 2002 that show Canadians seek some restrictions on abortion. CNS photo/Gregory L. Tracy, The Pilot

Angus Reid poll reverses consistent findings of LifeCanada since 2002

  • July 30, 2014

OTTAWA - A recent Angus Reid Global poll shows 59 per cent of Canadians are “fine” with no law restricting abortion, contradicting LifeCanada’s consistent polling results since 2002 that show Canadians seek some restrictions on abortion.

The self-commissioned poll shows 23 per cent want some restrictions on abortion, 10 per cent would want abortion restricted except in some special circumstances and seven per cent would outlaw abortion except when the mother’s life was in danger. 

“LifeCanada has done polling consistently since 2002 with Environics Research Group and found that high percentages of Canadians want to see some form of protection for human life,” said LifeCanada executive director Natalie Sonnen in an e-mail. “In our 2013 poll, six in 10 Canadians said human life should receive legal protection some time prior to birth, either from conception (23 per cent) or from two (13 per cent), three (14 per cent) or six (10 per cent) months of pregnancy on. One quarter (28 per cent) said human life should be protected only at birth, which is the current legal situation in Canada." 

Sonnen expressed disappointment with the Angus Reid Global poll and others like it that fail to define terms. 

“They serve only to perpetuate unwarranted biases that already exist within the population,” she said.

“The term abortion is given no definition or context and is used as though the people taking the poll are experts on the subject. There are huge misconceptions surrounding this issue that involve everything from what the actual abortion procedure consists of, to when a human heart starts to beat. The vast majority of the population has no idea what is actually involved in a surgical abortion.

“Considering that human lives are at stake, when the issue is asked in terms of protection of life, the percentages are significantly different,” Sonnen said.

“The reality is people are becoming far too complacent,” said Campaign Life Coalition national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas. Campaign Life is the political arm of Canada's pro-life movement. 

“This is not a poll on whether we want higher tax on gasoline; this is a poll to allow for killing constantly defenseless human beings in the womb. This is what they are saying is okay in Canada.

“For a country that prides itself on human rights, this hideous disgrace has been going on since 1969,” she said. 

Since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s abortion law in the Morgentaler decision, Douglas said the lives of four million babies have been lost. 

Mike Schouten, director of Weneedalaw.ca, pointed out an Angus Reid Global poll from 2013 showed only 44 per cent believe abortion should be permitted in all cases. That survey was more consistent with those of LifeCanada that year and previous years. 

“This issue has always come out as divisive,” said Schouten. “We can’t expect any swings because it is deeply personal.”

In 2013, Angus Reid Global asked, “What is your personal feeling on abortion,” then offered possible answers ranging from: “abortion should be permitted in all cases; to only in cases of rape, incest and saving the women’s life; to abortion should never be permitted." In 2014, teh question was changed and prefaced with: “Canada has had no abortion law since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the former abortion law was unconstitutional in 1989.” It then offered various options ranging from: “leave it entirely alone, we are fine with no abortion law; to re-introduce law that would restrict abortions in special circumstances"; to “outlaw abortion altogether (except when the life of the mother is in danger)."

Campaign Life has traditionally opposed incremental gestational legislation restricting abortion, while Weneedalaw.ca has pursued gestational legislation among various options. 

“We will continue raising awareness to the reality that abortion does occur through all nine months of pregnancy,” Schouten said. “We also realize that sustained efforts in the legislatures via our grassroots lobbying efforts will result in changes to the abortion law in Canada.”

Schouten said he believed lobbying efforts were making progress with a consistent message.

While the poll showed 59 per cent of Canadians overall were content with the status quo, its results showed considerable variation in the regions. In British Columbia, 70 per cent supported the present legal vacuum on abortion; in Quebec, only 51 per cent did. Thirty-five per cent of Quebeckers would support a law putting some restrictions on abortion, the highest level of any of the provinces.

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