Pro-life officials take little comfort in published reports that Canada’s abortion rate is levelling off.

Statistics Canada figures released in early November indicate the rate of increase to be 0.4 per cent, the smallest rise since 1988, when the Supreme Court struck down the former abortion law.

The data also shows that nearly 107,000 abortions were committed in the country in 1995, the latest year for which data is available.

Other trends revealed in the Statistics Canada report are that older women are turning to abortion, and the number of repeat abortions has risen by more than 20 per cent since 1975.

The overall abortion in Canada stands at 28.2 abortions for every 100 live births.

“Every year we set a new record in both the number and rate of abortions in this country,” said Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition. The rate of 28.2 abortions per 100 live births amounts to one in five Canadian children killed in their mothers’ wombs. It’s appalling.”

Hughes also said the figures suggest a new callousness about the sanctity of life issue in the country. He suggested a harsh economic picture may be leading many single mothers to look to abortion.

“These numbers should be a wake-up call for all Canadian,” he said. “It’s time for a national examination of how we treat the right to life in this country.”

The Campaign Life Coalition leader also criticized the lack of information available on abortion.

Over a year ago, the federal government assigned abortion record keeping to a private agency, the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Pro-lifers say this move limits the amount of information available.

The latest data shows two-thirds of all therapeutic abortions in 1995 were performed in hospitals and about a third in clinics, but pro-lifers believe this information is incomplete.

“We have no background information on almost one-quarter of women getting hospital abortions, and almost one-half of women getting clinic abortions,” Hughes said, “even less information than we’ve had in the past.”

Abortion supporters used the Statistics Canada figures to justify many of their favorite assumptions. Stanley Henshaw, an official with Planned Parenthood’s Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, suggested in a Toronto newspaper that the abortion rate increase reveals the failure of chastity education in preventing unwanted pregnancy. He called for greater efforts to promote morning after pills and other abortifacients.