The latest Stats Canada figures are out. What are they and what are the implications for pro-lifers and Canada?

Last December, Statistics Canada published the 1985 abortion statistics. These show that the numbers of therapeutic abortions escalated rapidly from 11,200 in 1970 to a high of 66, 319 in 1982. A decline in reported abortions began to seen in 1983 and by 1985 the numbers have decreased to 60,959 (Figures 1 and 2)

Fewer reported abortions may at first glance be seen as good news, however, official statistics are only gathered from hospitals with working Therapeutic Abortion Committees (TACs). Omitted are the many thousands abortions committed in the illegal “clin1ics’ in Montreal and Toronto, in doctors’ offices across Canada, or in Quebec’s “community health centres.”

Repeat abortions

It is now quite clear that the numbers of repeat abortions have risen over the past 15 years, today induced abortion is being used as a publicly-funded method of birth control. (Figure 3)

Since 1975, the number of women having second, third, fourth and more, abortions has risen from 8.6 per cent of all women having abortions in 1975 to 20.3 per cent in 1985. In 1985, more than one in every five women having an induced abortion in hospital had already had at least one previous abortion.

Unfounded allegations are constantly being made (see The Interim, February 1987 for the latest, coming from the Law Reform Commission of Canada) that some TAC’s refuse approval for women who have had previous abortions. This clearly unsubstantiated argument input forward to bolster the complaint that women have unequal access to abortion.

It is hard to put much credence in this argument when some 12,321 women were having their second, third, fourth and up abortions in 1985 than the total of officially-recorded abortions in 1970.

Abortion complications

We learn from Statistics Canada that 2.1 per cent of the recorded abortions in 1985 resulted in complications, which are termed “morbid conditions resulting from pregnancy termination.” However, it soon becomes clear from the report that this percentage is only the tip of the iceberg.

Statistics information is restricted to those conditions, which require hospitalization immediately following an abortion – and it covers only the first recorded complications.

Completely omitted from the statistics are any complications, which did not show immediately in women who were treated as out patients, but who were forced to return to the hospital even a few hours later. However serious their condition might be, it is not recorded as a post-abortion complication.         In 1985, 76.9 per cent of all abortions committed in hospitals were on an out patient basis, any complications presenting themselves a few hours after the abortion are not included in these statistics. The data also ignores any morbid conditions which follow abortions in such free-standing clinics as Morgentaler’s.

Statistics Canada also ignores the well-documented, long-term consequences of abortion: repeated miscarriages, premature labour, RH sensitization, and psychological damage, amongst others.

The types of complications, which are listed include parts of the pre-born baby being left in the uterus, torn cervix, perforated uterus, infection and hemorrhage.

In addition to the women admitted immediately to hospital because of these “morbid conditions” there were many others who required hospitalization. In 1985, 7.9 per cent of all those who had abortions spent between two days and a month in hospital. Obviously, abortion is not the safe procedure as is advertised.

The recent report from the Law Reform Commission used the term “manipulation” to describe attempts by State legislatures in the United States to allow a woman to make an “informed consent” to an abortion, by making it mandatory to give her information on the procedures and dangers of abortion. (Abortion is still the only surgical procedure in which this type of information is routinely withheld.)

In the light of this information on complications from Statistics Canada, incomplete though it is, one might well ask, “Who is manipulating whom?”  Common sense and a sense of justice should lead even “pro-choice” people to demand that women who are contemplating abortion should know the risks involved.

Fewer abortions?

Pro-abortion groups across the country are claiming that the decline in the number of abortions since 1983 has been caused by increased “lack of access” (figures 1 and 2.)  “The situation has deteriorated markedly in the last year. I think we are in a deeper crisis than we have been in years,” complained Judy Rebick of the Ontario Coalition of Abortion Clinics. The “last year” of Rebick’s lament was 1986, a year for which there are no official statistics and her statement cannot be proved or disproved. Nevertheless, Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups across Canada are singing the same refrain.

It is true that the number of hospitals with TACs went down from 261 in 1982 to 250 in 1985. on the other hand whilst the years 1976-1982 saw a decline from 276-261 hospitals, the total number of abortions rose during that period.

Alliance for Life, the umbrella organization for Canadian pro-life educational groups, believed that the decline in abortions is because teens are becoming more aware of the scientific facts of fetal development. Anna Desilets, Alliance’s executive director, commented, “We are especially pleased to note the steady decline in both the numbers of abortions, and the abortion rate for women under 20.”

While there is a consistent and marked decline in the number of teen abortions – from 19,607 in 1979 to 13,849 in 1985 – the number of abortions committed on women in the 25-39 age group has actually increased over the same period of time.

Allegations about “lack of access” lack substance. Some charge that this forces women to go to another province, or even the United States to find an abortionist. An Alberta spokesman for Planned Parenthood alleged recently that women from that province were traveling to Montana and that the increase was so great that clinics there have warned that they might set quotas for Canadians.

There are no official statistics yet for 1986 to back up these claims, but Statistics Canada reported abortions from Montana are 633 in 1982, 372 in 1984 and 282 in 1985. there is no evidence of a critical rise.

Nor is there any evidence to suggest that “limited access” is the reason shy women go to another province for abortions. Quebec, with its many free-standing clinics, is often suggested as the model for other provinces to follow. However, strange as it may seem given that province’s liberal policies, Quebec has by far the greater number of women who go to other provinces for their abortions. Quebec alone, in 1985, had exactly the same number from six other provinces: Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.

It is obvious that other reasons (could one be anonymity?) lead women to have abortions at a distance from home.

Other data for 1985

  • The number of Canadian hospitals with TACs is given as 250, or, in some tables, as 253.
  • 39 hospitals reported a total of 45, 369 abortions, or 74.4. per cent of the Canadian total (the average per hospital is 1163.3)
  • 30 hospitals reported 8.266 abortions, or 13.6 per cent (average per hospital is 275.5)
  • 9 hospitals reported a total of 537 abortions, or 0.9 per cent of the Canadian total (average per hospital is 9.1)
  • 37 hospitals reported zero abortions.
  • The remaining hospitals either made no report (3.6 per cent) or they reported in the range of 21 to 199 abortions.

Abortion and the economy

For those people who really care, the deliberate destruction of even one pr-born baby is a tragedy. For others, the feeling is that abortion is not a relevant issue in their lives. It is only when some yardstick is applied to the numbers, and the statistics are translated into the costs of abortion – in terms of economics, employment, and society – that abortion becomes relevant.

One yardstick is the number of classrooms that might have been filled, had the babies been allowed to live. In September 1986, the children born in 1980 entered Grade one. However, children who would have filled 1,644 classrooms (with 40 pupils per class) were missing. These were the never-allowed-to-be-born babies of 1980.

Had these babies not been destroyed, 773 grade one teachers in Ontario, 217 teachers in British Columbia, and 554 Grade one teachers across the rest of Canada would have had jobs for the present school year.

When schools opened in September 1986, 6753 teaching positions were not available in Ontario because the children who should have been in school from kindergarten to grade 10 had been killed. The adjoining table shows the number of classrooms which are “empty” – and the teachers who are not needed – by grade and province or territory. The map shows the number of empty classrooms across Canada

It is calculated that a minimum of 14, 117 teachers could have been employed this school year. There are others whose jobs are affected by abortion. Fewer children means less employment for nurses, secretaries, maintenance, bus drivers, school board officials, etc. When the number of potential classrooms is converted into the need for extra buildings, text books, art and crafts equipment, physical education apparatus, and so on, the economic ripple effect spreads even wider.

It does not require much imagination to see the effects of abortion on the manufacture and sale of consumer goods for all these missing children and on the Canadian economy. The greatest effects, however, will be a few years down the road, when a shrinking number of wage earners will be required to take care of the pensions and health and other benefits of expanding numbers of senior citizens, as well as caring for their children.

The handwriting is already on the wall.

Yearly Statistics are Essential

When the Criminal Code was amended to allow certain types of abortions under specified conditions there was a promise that the system would me monitored. However, in the fall of 1986, pro-lifers discovered that a quiet decision had been made to discontinue statistics on abortion. Once alerted, concerned MPs managed to reverse this decision, but only to the extent that reports would be made every three years. If 1988 statistics are collated and published at the usual speed they will not be available before 1989.

Meantime the Law Reform Commission has stated that it will be making recommendations concerning the law and abortion in late 1989. Discussion on these cannot begin before 1988, by which time any of the 1985 data will be completely out of date, and any decisions will of necessity be made without proper evidence. It is highly likely that these decisions, affecting many thousands of lives annually, will be influenced by the types of unsubstantiated claims presented by pro-abortions groups. Pro-lifers are being prevented from obtaining the evidence to refute these claims.

It is highly inconceivable that serious debate on any other subject would take place in such a foggy atmosphere, one of conjectures but no facts. Annual publication of abortion statistics should be restored immediately for the sake of pre-born children, and in truth for the future of Canada as a nation.