Canada’s pro-life community remains unimpressed by news that the overall abortion rate dropped slightly between 1999 and 2000.

A March 28, 2003 report from Statistics Canada indicated that Canadian women obtained 105,427 abortions in the year 2000, down some 0.2 per cent from the previous year. The number of abortions committed in 1999 was 105,666, while the 1998 figure stood at 110,331.

The actual rate of abortions was unchanged at 15.4 abortions per 1,000 women in 1999 and 2000.

Quebec and British Columbia had the highest abortion rates among the provinces, at 18.9 and 16.2 (per 1,000 women) respectively. The abortion rate in Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories actually exceeded Quebec’s, albeit involving far fewer actual cases.

Obtaining accurate information on the number of abortions committed in Canada year to year has long been a problem for the country’s right to life community. Pro-life officials believe the number is likely higher than indicated by Statistics Canada, due to under-reporting of abortions done in private abortuaries.

“I was not particularly surprised by the numbers,” Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer for Campaign Life Coalition, told The Interim. “When you consider that two-and-a-half million babies have been removed from the population, there has to be fewer women of child-bearing age. The drop is insignificant in the total carnage.”

Douglas suggested that the latest Statistics Canada report is part of a pattern of delaying information about the real rate of abortion in the country. “The day the report was released, several other reports came out as well,” she said. “They were all in 2003 or 2002. Why does it take three years to list the dead babies?”

A number of pro-life organizations, including Alliance Canada, have long lobbied the federal government for greater access to abortion statistics. Pro-life groups believe that full disclosure of “cold statistics” will eventually help all Canadians understand the full extent to which tax dollars go in support of abortion.

“When I see these reports, I do not see numbers, I see a long line of dead babies and I grieve for them and for our country,” Douglas said.

In a March 29 statement, Campaign Life Coalition also expressed dismay with the Statistics Canada report. “The magnitude of this atrocity appears to be lost on the average person in Canada,” said CLC president Jim Hughes. “Our federal leaders try to brag about their human rights record in Canada and abroad, while they ignore the mounting death toll that they have refused to stop here at home.”

Pro-life organizations also criticized the federal government for what is not revealed in Statistics Canada reports on abortion. In particular, the latest report gives no hint of the costs of abortion in terms of its association with breast cancer, infertility problems, and psychological stress.

The Statistics Canada report indicates that women in their 20s make up 51 per cent of those obtaining abortions in 2000. An average of 26 out of every 1,000 women aged 20 to 29 obtained an abortion in the year 2000.

The report states that figures for abortion rates are based on induced abortions committed on Canadian residents in hospitals and abortuaries in Canada, as well as “legal” abortions obtained by Canadian women in the United States.