The Romanow Report on Health Care in Canada was issued Nov. 28, and pro-life leaders are criticizing the missed opportunity to free up healthcare funds by directing the provinces to de-list abortion.

Pro-lifers note that abortion is not a medical necessity and therefore, should not be funded.

Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes said that Romanow “did not look at, nor consider, the one area where health care dollars could be saved and a health commitment to patients could be accomplished … A procedure which is not medically necessary, which kills a human being and causes long-range complications to the second patient, is fully funded by medical plans in each province. I refer to the lifestyle choice of abortion.”

With about 115,000 abortions each year, at a cost of about $600 each, governments would realize an immediate saving of about $70 million. Polls consistently show two-thirds of Canadians oppose taxpayer-funding of abortion.

Furthermore, there are additional costs from the aftermath of abortion: complications such as punctured uteruses, an increased risk of breast cancer and health effects related to post-abortion syndrome.

The costs of these are unknown, in part because there is little or no follow-up for women who have abortions and because governments treat abortion differently than primary healthcare services by either not keeping or refusing to release information regarding abortion complications.

The $70 million figure is, in Hughes’ words, “only the tip of the iceberg.”

Elizabeth Ring-Cassidy and Ian Gentles report in their book Women’s Health After Abortion that the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons studied more than 40,000 Ontario women for hospital usage.

It found that women who had abortions were four times more likely to require hospitalization for infections within three months of having an abortion than women in general, and almost five times more likely to require hospitalization for psychiatric treatment.

Such figures show that abortion, far from being a legitimate health service, “increases the load on healthcare,” said Jakki Jeffs, president of Life Canada.

She said it is disappointing that Romanow did not address abortion, the most common surgical procedure in Canada. “It is the gravest health issue for women,” Jeffs said. “It is the gravest health issue for children. But Romanow didn’t touch it.”

Jeffs noted that while “abortion is the leading cause of death in Canada,” has “detrimental effects on women,” and “isn’t really healthcare,” Romanow took the three-monkey approach: “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”

The Romanow Commission – which was really just former Saskatchewan NDP premier Roy Romanow – claimed to consult with Canadians, but never heard submissions from pro-life people or organizations.

Mary-Ellen Douglas, national organizer for Campaign Life Coalition, said CLC tried several times to make an appointment to suggest to the commission that abortion is not healthcare and that defunding the procedure would result in substantial savings. CLC submitted, as required, its points in writing beforehand, but had its appointments cancelled with the excuses of lack of time (B.C., Alberta) or space (Nova Scotia). Others, such as CLC Manitoba and CLC’s Ottawa-based public affairs office, were just refused outright.

In its written submission, CLC stated, “As an elective procedure, it’s clear that abortions are not medically necessary and should be removed from the list of items covered by public expense.”

Douglas told The Interim that when the healthcare system is “short of cash for true medical emergencies, it is ridiculous to waste money on a lifestyle choice.”

Patty Nixon, director of Alberta Pro-Life, told The Interim that Albertans are fed up with the misplaced priority on funding abortion. “Public tolerance for this is very low,” she explained. “Albertans are upset that there is unlimited money for abortion but they can’t get an MRI.” Alberta Pro-Life is running an ongoing, public awareness campaign to let Albertans know how their healthcare dollars are wasted on abortion.

Unfortunately, Alberta Health Minister Gary Mar and his expert panel examining which procedures might be deinsured have taken abortion off the table.

Upon release of the Romanow Report, CLC formally called on the federal government to strive for the defunding of abortion while spending more Canadian healthcare dollars on support for pregnant women and their families.