There will be a ‘Defund Abortion Rally’ in Toronto at Queens Park on Saturday, Oct. 22. The purpose of the rally is “to make defunding abortion an issue in the newly elected provincial government,” organizer and head of Campaign Life Coalition Youth Alissa Golob told The Interim. The rally will be just the beginning of a nationwide movement to defund abortion, as the group will “move on to making this an issue in each province.”

Golob described the defunding strategy as an “incremental step” in the pro-life cause “without compromising our mandate to end abortion altogether.” The ultimate goal is “changing hearts and minds and making abortion unthinkable just as slavery and the holocaust are unthinkable to us today.”

The date of the rally is tentative, because Queen’s Park rules prevent booking demonstrations more than 30 days prior to an event, but Golob said her group is working with organizations across the province to ensure a massive turnout for the rally. She said that the public is ignorant about their payment for abortions through their taxes and the total costs associated with doing so.

Neither provincial nor federal health ministries release figures relating to the cost of abortion, but Life Canada estimates that abortion costs the federal government $80 million per year, using the average price of $800 for an abortion and related treatments. This corresponds to the 2005 abortion rate of 96,815 as reported by Statistics Canada, which excludes abortions done in British Columbia and in some Manitoba abortion facilities.

Abortion funding varies slightly across the country. In every province and territory, except for Prince Edward Island and Nunavut, abortions conducted in hospitals are paid for in full at taxpayer expense. In P.E.I. and Nunavut, though, taxpayers cover the cost for an abortion in a hospital in another province. In Ontario, Newfoundland, Alberta, and British Columbia, abortions in private facilities are also fully funded. In Quebec and Nova Scotia, there is partial funding for private abortions and in New Brunswick, abortions are not funded in private facilities.

An Abacus poll from May 2011 shows that Canadians are split over abortion funding, with 45 per cent supporting paying for the procedure through the health care system, while 42 per cent do not. The debate is also active in the United States, and according to a 2009 Quinnipiac poll, 72 per cent do not support taxpayer funds going to pay for abortion.

According to a literature review by the pro-abortion and formerly Planned Parenthood-affiliated Guttmacher Institute, defunding abortion does indeed decrease abortion rates. According to its June 2009 report, “Restrictions on Medicaid Funding for Abortions: A Literature Review,” which examines data from the United States, “Approximately one-fourth of women who would have Medicaid-funded abortions instead give birth when this funding is unavailable.” It also found that there are fewer teenage abortions and that abortions are often delayed for days or weeks. Furthermore, the report says, “Studies have found little evidence that lack of Medicaid funding has resulted in illegal abortions.”

In the United States, Republican lawmakers and pro-life organizations are currently waging a battle to get Planned Parenthood defunded. Washington disperses $363 million to Planned Parenthood, although the Hyde Amendment, which is renewed each session of Congress, outlaws federal funds to directly pay for abortion through Medicare, in military hospitals, and other government programs.