The results of a national U.S. survey on abortion conducted by a pro-abortion organization is generating some controversy south of the border.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute – otherwise known as the research arm of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America – said in an Oct. 8 release that its survey of 10,000 women showed “U.S. abortion rates continue to decline, especially among teens.” Overall, the U.S. abortion rate is reported to have decreased by 11 per cent between 1994 and 2000.

The institute added that “abortion occurs among (a) broad cross-section of American women, but is increasingly concentrated among women with low incomes.” Other claimed findings included:

  • 56 per cent of U.S. women who obtain abortions are in their 20s
  • 67 per cent have never married
  • 61 per cent have one or more children
  • 88 per cent live in a metropolitan area
  • 57 per cent are economically disadvantaged (that is, living below twice the poverty level)
  • 78 per cent report a religious affiliation (43 per cent Protestant, 27 per cent Catholic and eight per cent other religions)

The institute attributed three-quarters of the reason for lower abortion rates among adolescents – a drop of 39 per cent between 1994 and 2000 – to “improved contraceptive use,” while one-quarter was credited to “delayed sexual activity.”

The survey was assailed by some U.S. pro-life advocates, who cited the Guttmacher Institute’s bias, the lack of reporting standards and holes in the reporting data.

“There are no universal reporting standards,” observed American Life League president Judy Brown. “There is no guarantee that all abortionists are reporting the number of babies they’ve aborted – if they’re reporting at all.”

The National Right to Life Committee greeted the survey more positively, however, noting that it offered pro-lifers “some encouraging news,” and a spokesperson for the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference said the rise in the abortion rate among low-income women means that unwed mothers need more financial and emotional support, not more contraceptives.

On the Canadian side, abortion-related data is more difficult to collate, since the Ontario government has been stonewalling efforts to obtain data within the province since 1994.

When Canadian abortion statistics for 1999 were released by Statistics Canada this past January, Ontario’s figures were excluded. Presumably, it will take a freedom of access to information request to obtain those numbers.

The Ontario Ministry of Health has claimed that what “abortion-related statistics now too often contribute to is uncontrolled passion, be it expressed by a mob or by a lone individual who stalks and is willing to kill.”

It is known that in 1998 – the last year for which Ontario abortion data is available – there were 44,002 abortions committed in the province. Statistics Canada said that in 1999, there were 65,627 abortions Canada-wide, excluding Ontario – down 3.2 per cent from 1998. They were most common among women in their 20s, who obtained 52 per cent of all abortions.