A DART & Maru/Blue Voice Canada Poll released February 1, 2020 reveals the ignorance of the Canadian populace on the abortion issue.

1,515 randomly selected members of Maru/Blue’s Voice Canada Online panel were surveyed from December 5 to 8 in 2019 and the results were weighted by education, age, gender, and region to match the Canadian population, though PEI and the territories have been excluded due to insufficient sample sizes. The results were then published by the DART and Maru/Blue firms in a report titled, “Abortion: A Canadian Public Perspective after Three Decades,” in commemoration of the anniversary of the 1989 Tremblay v Daigle decision, which deemed that the preborn were not persons under the law and that men could not legally block the abortion of their offspring.

DART and Maru/Blue claim that 75 per cent of Canadians “indicate they are satisfied with Canada’s policies regarding the abortion issue.” A slightly lower portion – 70 per cent – find abortion acceptable. Similarly, 71 per cent believe the government shouldn’t reopen the abortion debate. 62 per cent identify as “pro-choice.”

The same percentage that finds abortion unacceptable – 10 per cent – also wants the issue reopened. 13 per cent identify as “pro-life.”

Predictably, Quebec and British Columbia are most accepting of abortion. Those who find abortion unacceptable are most likely to be from Atlantic Canada, but those who are not satisfied with Canada’s policies on abortion are most likely to be from Manitoba or Saskatchewan. Those who are indifferent are most likely to be from Alberta, but so too are those who identify as “pro-life.”

More males than females identify as “pro-life” (15 per cent to 12 per cent) and more females than males identify as “pro-choice” (66 percent to 58 per cent), but this gender difference is less pronounced when questions are about the acceptability of abortion or satisfaction with the current policies and status of debate. Those who are older or middle-aged seem the most sympathetic to the pro-life position, as are those who have a lower income and education.

However, it is apparent that many respondents were inconsistent or at least did not fully appreciate the reality of there being a lack of a law. Some of the questions in the poll like – “Would you like to see abortion laws in this country made stricter, less strict or remain as they are?” – likely contributed to this misapprehension.

On the one hand, 71 per cent claimed that women should be able to get an abortion no matter the reason and 51 per cent claimed they “don’t think politicians should at least be willing to talk about providing some regulatory framework when it comes to abortion.”

On the other hand, when panel members were asked about specific circumstances and restrictions, their answers uncovered a much less extreme viewpoint on the whole.

A majority would seem to support certain regulations. 93 per cent favour a law requiring women to be informed about the risks of abortion prior to obtaining one, and 78 per cent also think they should be informed about alternatives to abortion. 65 per cent would support a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortion.

84 per cent oppose permitting sex-selective abortions. 70 per cent think that abortion should be generally illegal in the third trimester. 57 per cent would support a general ban on partial birth abortions.

Even so, there were other answers that pro-lifers would find discouraging. 91 per cent think abortion should be legal in often-cited cases of rape and incest. Three quarters admit to the eugenic perspective that abortion should be legal in cases where the baby may be physically or mentally impaired. 57 per cent think that abortion should be permitted when a child would be too financially onerous. Just 4 per cent (with a high of 8 per cent in Atlantic Canada) think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

Despite the evident complexity in this debate, 63 per cent oppose conscience protection legislation which would allow “pharmacists and health providers to opt out of providing medicine or surgical procedures that result in abortion.”

Perhaps most disappointing to pro-lifers might be the finding that only 34 per cent of respondents believe human life begins at conception – a scientific fact that 96 per cent of biologists acknowledge. As the American College of Pediatricians attests, “The predominance of human biological research confirms that human life begins at conception – fertilization.”

Comparatively, just under a quarter believe life begins at the nebulous and ever-changing point of viability and just under a fifth believe human life begins at birth, which is the definition that the Criminal Code of Canada currently employs and former MP Stephen Woodworth sought to examine through Motion 312 for its anti-science nature. The remaining respondents cited some other time during pregnancy.