Paul Tuns:

According to the latest Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) figures, more than 87,000 preborn children were killed by abortion in 2021.

The official figures collected by CIHI are incomplete because not all abortions committed outside a hospital setting or are captured by physician billing data are recorded. This incomplete data persists despite “CIHI’s ongoing improvement efforts … to address data gaps.” CIHI used a “revised methodology” that included “physician billing data as the source of total abortion volumes and method of abortion for some provinces,” the report states. “2021 results are not comparable with historical data results.” Despite the shortcomings, the CIHI report said there were 87,307 abortions

There were 55,073 reported “surgical” abortions in 2021 and 32,234 “medical” abortions (chemical abortions by pill). The report admits it will undercount chemical abortions administered outside of hospitals.

In Canada, there were 20,217 reported abortions committed in hospital settings and 67,268 in non-hospital settings. More reported abortions were committed in non-hospital settings than hospital settings in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec. In Quebec, 67 per cent of reported abortions were committed in physicians’ offices and health clinics, while the respective figures for Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador were 84 per cent and 94 per cent respectively of reported abortions were committed outside hospital settings.

The new datasets do not include information that previous CIHI abortion reports included such as abortions by gestational age, by number of previous deliveries, by number of previous abortions, and by complications. The report includes basic details such as the age of the mother, the type of abortion, and the province in which the abortion took place.

In every province except B.C., the most common age cohort for women seeking abortions was 18-24, although there is incomplete data for girls in their teens and women in their early 20s who obtained their abortion through a non-hospital setting. Yet, demographic data was not available for 23,381 women who had abortions, and in many jurisdictions, there is no data reported for girls in their teens.

Pro-life researcher Patricia Maloney stated in her Run with Life blog that CIHI is “now adjusting their numbers to use doctor’s billing codes” and “that is good.” Unfortunately, Maloney adds, “what is bad is that they are not including all their previous stats.”

Using doctor billing data, CIHI found that there were at least 87,485 surgical and chemical abortions in Canada in 2021. It reported that about one-third of abortions were chemical abortions using the abortion pill combination Mifegymiso. However, it does not account for abortion pills administered outside of a hospital.

The CIHI report stated, “Hospitals are mandated by their provincial/territorial ministry of health to report all hospital activity” and their “coverage of abortions performed in Canadian hospitals can be considered complete.” But because there are no legislative requirements for independent “clinics providing abortion services” to report their activity, utilizing physician billing data only “captures clinical activity for publicly insured medical services funded through provincial/territorial medical care plans.”

Using the new methodology, CIHI revised its 2020 abortion numbers. Originally, the Institute reported 74,155 abortions in 2020, but the revised number increased the total to 91,551, based on more accurate counts in British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. Maloney said that both years’ statistics still undercount abortions, with her research indicating about 17 per cent of abortions in Ontario are not accounted for by CIHI’s methods.

Matthew Wojciechowski, vice president of Campaign Life Coalition, told The Interim, that he was “encouraged” to see abortion numbers decline slightly although he was disappointed that even with an updated methodology to capture a more complete picture of abortion in Canada, it continues to under-estimate the actual number. “We just don’t know how bad the situation really is,” Wojciechowski said, saying “significant deficiencies remain.”

He said that until provincial governments begin collecting complete abortion data, “we can and should claim that abortion numbers are much higher,” noting, “for many years now, we’ve been sticking to the 100,000 abortions per year number, although it may be higher.”

Regardless of the actual figures, Wojciechowski said “we have to remember that each number is a human being, a child of God, who was brutally killed in his mother’s womb.” He said, “we need to continue to do all that we can to bring that number to zero.”

Wojciechowski said that “data for a so-called medical procedure, which is funded by tax dollars, should be fully accessible with as many data points as possible,” calling the available information “mediocre.” He pointed to complications as a particularly important piece of information that is missing from the CIHI reports. Wojciechowski also said the report “highlights how limiting and incomplete the data is,” and questioned how governments can “implement policy without the facts and evidence.”

Campaign Life Coalition has called for the federal Ministry of Health to keep track of the number of abortions and complications that result from it.