Statistics Canada has announced that it will not longer collect abortion statistics. The move, said to be a “cost-cutting measure, has been condemned by all three national pro-life groups.
Alliance for Life, Campaign Life and Coalition for the Protection of Human Life issued a joint press statement condemning the move as “totally unacceptable.” They pointed out that the government had promised to monitor closely the number of abortions performed following the legalization of abortion in 1969. Stopping this data collection “serves no purpose other than to further deliberately ignore the continuing problem of abortion” the three pro-life groups argue.
Two pro-life MPs spoke in the House of Commons to protest the decision. Mr. Lawrence O’Neil (OC Cape Breton Highlands-Canso) said, “It is difficult not to conclude that officials of Stats Canada are revealing a bias against informed debate on the abortion issue.” Mr. Gus Mitges (PC Grey-Simcoe) asked the Minister of Supply and Services, Monique Vezina (in charge of Stats Canada), to state what action the government is taking to offset this decision. Mrs. Vezina replied that the statistics “did not give an accurate and valid representation” of the number of abortions. She said that she was discussing the matter with Minister of Health Jake Epp and added, “Naturally, as a woman and as a member of a government concerned with social issues, I shall make the decisions necessary to provide the services we wish to provide to the public.”
Mr. Epp has indicated that there is a possibility that the Ministry of Health might gather abortion data through Medicare records. While such figures would indicate the approximate numbers of abortions done annually, they would not show the gestational age of the unborn child, the type of abortion procedure used, the age of the mother, her marital status and so on. Nor would they show the repeat abortion rate – now approaching 20 per cent.
Stats Canada figures only showed the number of hospital-based abortions, those done in the illegal clinics in Ontario and Quebec were not counted. They were, however, of great importance to the pro-life movement. All three national groups are requesting letters to be sent to Ministers Epp, Vezina and Hnatyshn, and also to individual MPs, requesting that full statistics continue to be kept.