Paul Tuns
The Interim

Polling conducted by Environics Research in October has yet again confirmed that the vast majority of Canadians are opposed to the status quo on abortion. Currently, abortion is legal and easily available for any reason, for all nine months of pregnancy, at taxpayers’ expense.

The LifeCanada-sponsored poll found that six in 10 Canadians want at least some legal protection for the unborn child. Asked about when the unborn should be protected by law, 30 per cent of respondents answered from conception, 19 per cent wanted life protected after the first trimester and another 11 per cent wanted abortion illegal after the second trimester. Just one-third of respondents thought abortion should be legal for the full nine months of pregnancy.

Contrary to the standard media storyline, women are slightly more pro-life than men. For example, among women, 34 per cent support legal protection from conception on, versus 24 per cent among men.

Joanne Byfield, president of LifeCanada, said, “Although abortion is held up as an important right for women, we see from this poll that in fact, women are far more supportive of protecting human life in the womb.”

Environics also asked respondents about specific pro-life measures and found widespread support for each of them.

When asked about whether they would support informed consent laws that would require women be to told about fetal development and possible health risks associated with abortion, 70 per cent of respondents were supportive of the idea, compared to just 27 per cent who were opposed. In Saskatchewan, a stunning 81 per cent supported informed-consent laws.

A majority of Canadians (56 per cent) support parental consent laws, compared to 41 per cent who are opposed. Even among the least-receptive age demographic, 18- to 29-year-olds, there is an even split (49-49 per cent) on the issue. Notably, support for parental consent laws is slightly higher among women (57 per cent) compared to men (54 per cent).

In a question on abortion funding, Environics gave respondents three choices: tax dollars should pay for all abortions; abortions should be financed with tax dollars only in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger; or abortions should be paid for privately, either out of the mother’s pocket or through medical insurance. Half of Canadians support funding for abortion only under limited circumstances. Another 18 per cent take the view that “paying for abortions should be a private responsibility.” Less than three in 10 (29 per cent) support unrestricted taxpayer funding of abortion.

Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes told The Interim that the polling demonstrates once again the current law does not reflect the views of the Canadian people. He said he hoped lawmakers would look at the Environics numbers and draft legislation that would restrict abortions and end funding for them, in accordance with the wishes of the majority of Canadians.

Byfield concurs. “Governments in Canada are completely out of step with Canadians when it comes to abortion policy,” she said. “We are forced to pay for all abortions, including repeat abortions, now over 33 per cent of all abortions.”

The polling data indicates that pro-life attitudes are generally the highest in Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada and lowest in British Columbia. But even in liberal B.C., more than one-fifth of respondents believe abortion should be outlawed from conception (compared to 30 per cent overall) and 61 per cent support informed-consent laws.

Environics, which has been polling about abortion for LifeCanada since 2002, has found that Liberal and Bloc Quebecois supporters are becoming less pro-life over time.

CLC’s Hughes says that might be indicative of some pro-life Liberals leaving the party over the aggressively pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage” policies and election tactics of their recent leaders Jean Chretien and Paul Martin. He said, “Just as the abortion laws are out of sync with the attitudes of Canadians, the policies of the Liberal leaders are out of sync with the views of many Liberal party supporters.”

But even among Liberals, there is still support for restricting abortion. For example, 55 per cent of them support parental consent laws, compared to 69 per cent among Conservatives, 48 per cent among the NDP and 59 per cent among political undecideds.
Environics polled 2,014 Canadians and the margin of error for the sample is 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error is higher for the smaller samples, including on gender, region and party affiliation.