Environics survey says 75% favour Informed Consent laws

The results for a national survey released November 25, indicate that nearly three-quarters of Canadians believe women seeking abortions should be informed about the development of the unborn child and the negative effects of abortion.

In the survey, conducted by Environics for the Citizens’ voice Association, 74 per cent of those polled responded affirmatively to the question.

“Would you favour or oppose a provincial law which requires that pregnant women seeking an abortion be given information about the development of a baby in the womb and the possible physical and psychological complications of abortion?”

A second question, asking respondents if they favour or oppose legislation requiring that a woman receive counseling about the option of placing the baby for adoption before she could have an abortion, was supported by 71 per cent of those polled.

Both the proposals received over 74 per cent support from Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

The proposals received over 75 per cent support from Catholics, homemakers, those with less than a high school education and those living in communities of less than 5,000 people.

Those least likely to favour the proposed laws included Albertans, working women, and those with a university degree.

Notably, there was no significant difference of opinion among men and women in general, married and single people, and those with children at home and those without.

The survey results were released during a Parliament Hill press conference attended by pro-life MPs Doug Fee, Deborah Grey, Jim Jordan and Joe McGiure.

Citizens’ Voice Association spokesperson Peter Smith says that ensuring that women have adequate information to make an informed choice provided the impetus for a movement supporting the introduction of informed consent legislation.

“Each year in Canada, thousands of women have abortions without fully understanding the physical and psychological risks of abortion, the biological facts about the development of a child in the womb, or the alternatives to abortion.

“Denying women the information to make informed health decisions would be unthinkable in the case of surgery for any reason.  Why is abortion the exception?”

Smith says his group believes that women want and have a right to be fully informed before they make any decision regarding abortion.  To this end, Citizens’ Voice raised funds and commissioned Environics to conduct the poll, to confirm widespread support for informed consent legislation.

Campaign Life Coalition spokesperson, Antoinette Jalsevac says CLC has insisted for years that women considering abortion should have all available information given to them so that they can give informed consent.  “The lack of information given to women before abortion is appalling,” she says.

Campaign Life Coalition across Canada will begin lobbying hard to bring this information before their provincial governments.  “It will be instructive to see who are the politicians who would refuse women access to the facts,” says Jalsevac.

Both Alliance for Life and Alliance Action reacted swiftly and positively to the survey.  “The poll results bear out our experience in counseling women who have been aborted,” stated Anna Desilets, Executive Director of Alliance for Life.  “Women are suffering enormously from inadequate or non-existent counseling.”

Alliance for Life maintains a national 24-hour toll-free Helpline which served 1,221 women in the last year, a good portion of whom were suffering after abortion.  Their common complaint was, “I wasn’t told about alternatives” or, “I was told it’s not a baby.”  Younger women in particular are most affected by these lies, says Desilets.

Calls on Alliance for Life’s Helpline from prospective parents seeking to adopt show that there should be no “unwanted” children in Canada.  “Proper counseling would make for a win/win situation for mothers, their babies and for prospective parents who now wait seven to ten years for a baby,” Desilets says.

Ingrid Kreuger, Manager of Alliance Action was also pleased with the results of the survey.

“This substantial support for informed consent legislation from all parts of Canada should be of great interest to all political parties looking for popular support in upcoming elections,” Kreuger said.

Canadian feminists voiced their objections to informed consent on abortion several years ago, in response to “guidelines” drafted by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  The Society suggested that women seeking abortions be exposed to information about fetal development, educated about alternative options, and sign their medical files in addition to the usual consent forms.  At that time, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and other women’s groups “condemned these measures as self-serving and profoundly patronizing to women.”

“The guidelines reveal the doctors as wiling to participate in manipulative tactics usually identified with the anti-choice,” wrote Janet Conway in NAC’s December newsletter.  “They also reveal a deep distrust of women and our capacity to make [our] own moral decisions.”

Campaign Life Coalition’s Jalsevac, on the other hand, says that not only is it discrimination to withhold information, it is demeaning to women’s intelligence.  “It suggests that women must be sheltered from the facts, because, if they knew the truth, they might reject abortion.”