Interim Staff

According to Statistics Canada figures released March 15, 103,765 unborn babies were killed by surgical abortion in 2003, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

The figures are based on “detailed records” of reported abortions in hospitals and free-standing abortion sites, as well as those committed on Canadian women in some American states but paid for by Canadian taxpayers. These figures do not include abortions committed in Nunavut, which did not report official statistics, other unreported abortions or the unknowable number who were killed by abortifacient drugs such the “morning-after pill” or regular birth control pills.

On the positive side, abortion numbers and abortion rates continued a slight decline. In 2003, there were 1,379 fewer abortions than in 2002, when there were 105,154. The abortion rate of 15.2 abortions per 1,000 women was a small decline from the 2003 rate of 15.4 abortions per 1,000 women.

Abortion numbers have increased slightly in most parts of the country, although Newfoundland and Labrador saw a 10 per cent increase in the number of abortions committed in the province. But there was a slight decline in British Columbia and Ontario and a significant one (9.7 percent) in New Brunswick.

Peter Ryan, president of Campaign Life Coalition New Brunswick, told The Interim that the nearly 10 per cent reduction in abortions in that province was the result of doctors at the Moncton Hospital deciding to stop committing abortions at the end of 2002, except in a small number of cases (narrowly defined health and life of the mother exceptions). “The 2003 statistics reflect that decision,” he said. He noted that, “Here were three facilities doing abortion on demand in New Brunswick and now there are two.” A hospital and one of Henry Morgentaler’s abortuaries commit them in Fredericton.

Nationally, abortion numbers for teens continues to decrease. From a high of 18.4 abortions per 1,000 girls under 20 years of age in 1997, the number has fallen to 14.5 per 1,000 in 2003. In 2002, the abortion rate fell further to 5.7 per 1,000 teenaged girls.

Statistics Canada revealed that women in their 20s obtain the majority of abortions, accounting for 53 per cent of the total number.

Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer of Campaign Life Coalition, warned about taking too sunny a look at the abortion numbers and missing the bigger picture. “Statistics are cold numbers, but each one of these precious babies before birth is a human being who was systematically dismembered by doctors and this was paid for by the taxpayers,” she said.

While describing the total numbers as “staggering,” Douglas said the decline in teenage abortion rates might be encouraging, although she wondered how many embryonic babies were lost due to chemical abortions. Pro-life groups responded to the numbers – the equivalent of what one called “a good-sized city” – with a call on the federal government to protect the right to life for all Canadians from conception until natural death.