Abortion Statistics

It's time for the facts to be known...

Many people who are concerned about the short and long term effects of abortion on Canadian society have entertained the suspicion that there is a long term strategy to suppress abortion information. 

12wkfeetWith little fanfare and even less media attention on December 18, 2000 Statistics Canada released their analysis of the 1998 abortion stats on their Daily web site on behalf of The Canadian Institute of Health Information. CIHI, which was incorporated in 1993 as a not-for- profit corporation, has taken over the responsibility of collecting the abortion data from all hospitals and clinics. CIHI’s Mission Statement includes the creation of public awareness of factors affecting good health, always respecting individual record confidentiality. In the meantime, the annual therapeutic abortion manual which had been published since the early 70’s has been withdrawn. To retrieve custom data for the figures once freely available, it is now necessary to pay a fee.

CIHI reported that 110,331 Canadian babies were aborted in 1998: however, their abortion data base provided details for only 69% of the 68,273 therapeutic abortions performed in Canadian hospitals and for only 49% of the 41,761 therapeutic abortions performed in clinics (about 1 in 3 abortions were done at clinic sites).

On January 18, 2002 unless you were regularly monitoring The Daily web site you most certainly would have missed the press release of the so-called “1999 statistics” which announced:

“Due to incomplete reporting by Ontario, all therapeutic abortions performed in Ontario and therapeutic abortions performed in other provinces on Ontario residents have been excluded.” (Therapeutic Abortion Survey 1999).

As a result, for the first time since the abortion statistics have been released The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) has failed to provide the figures for the total number of abortions done on Canadian women. The figures actually reported by the other provinces represent 65,662 induced abortions but only 44% (29,016 abortions) have detailed records.

The Daily web site states that, “As Ontario usually reports about 40% of all abortions, data for this province have a major impact on the national picture.” Using 40% as the estimate for Ontario’s share and adding in the 231 abortions done on Canadian women in the United States we can project that at least 109,609 abortions were performed in 1999. (It should be noted, however, that for the last three years after the original tables were calculated and released, the numbers usually increased because of revisions).

When we examine the history of the publication of abortion statistics since 1970, the agendum to suppress abortion statistics now appears obvious. In 1969 when abortion became legal John Turner as Minister of Justice ordered annual compilation and publication of the abortion data by Statistics Canada (then known as the Dominion Bureau of Statistics). Without the benefit of electronic information gathering the information was readily available, although no statistics were given for the Quebec abortion clinics.

In 1978-79 Ivan Fellegi of Statistics Canada was seconded to American President Jimmy Carter’s Committee on the Reorganisation of the United States Statistical System. The U.S. does not have a central agency for compiling abortion statistics and depends heavily on the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), a special research affiliate of The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), the nation’s largest promoter and provider of abortions.

In 1984 Dr.Fellegi assumed the position of Chief Statistician and retains this position today. In 1986 Dr. Ivan Fellegi advised the then Minister of Supply and Services, Mr. Stewart McInnes, to discontinue the abortion statistics program because it did not give a precise and worthwhile picture of the therapeutic abortions done in Canada. If such a situation did exist in 1986 why would Dr. Fellegi not strive to improve the situation? In his August 1986 directive to the hospital administrators Mr. David Bray, Director of Health Services at Statistics Canada, requested that they immediately “discontinue sending us the annual Therapeutic Abortion Report form” as a cost cutting measure and explained that “the figures weren’t relevant to most Canadians.” This was said despite the fact that the number of induced abortions reported in 1986 had escalated to 69,572 from the 11,000 reported in 1971. In his letter to Dr. A.D. Thompson Administrator of Health Care Institutions, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mr. Bray also wrote, “Finally, on behalf of Statistics Canada I want to thank you and others involved in the data collection since 1969. The cooperation of your organisation in this program has been much appreciated.”

There was such an outcry of public protest about this decision to cease compiling statistics on induced abortion that the new Minister of Supply and Services, Hon. Monique Vézina, told the House of Commons on November 5, 1986 that the method of compiling figures would be changed to provide a more precise picture of therapeutic abortions performed in Canada.

7wkhandsIn spite of this promise a pattern of less comprehensive data emerged in the late 1980’s. Fewer and fewer statistics were being provided about marital status at the time of the abortion, age grouping of the candidates, the number of previous deliveries, the number of previous abortions (repeat abortions), the type of abortion procedure and the frequency and nature of any complications. The figures identifying the gestational age of the child at the time of the abortion were decreasing and some were classed as age unknown, although it is usually based on the date of the (abortion) “event” as of the last menstrual period of the woman.

Then came the announcement that after 5 years of preparation (begun in 1989) the newly created agency, The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) would collect the abortion data leaving the analysis to Stats Canada. This represented a merger of two not-for-profit groups; Management Information Systems (MIS) and The Hospital Medical Records Institute (HMRI).

Dr. Fellegi, Chief Statistician of Canada, would also serve on the CIHI Board of Directors along with various provincial Deputy Ministers of Health and community health officials. In his October 22/96 correspondence Dr. Ivan Fellegi stated that the CIHI would“fill in data gaps found in the current system.” Since the mandate of CIHI is to provide comprehensive and integrated health information, this merger should have meant more rather than less information about the abortions done in both hospitals and clinics settings. As well, Janet Hagey (Statistics Canada-Health Division) had offered public assurance that “all pertinent information including that on abortion will continue to be collected and made available.” Remember, if Dr. Fellegi had the power to suggest in 1986 that abortion statistics no longer be compiled surely he enjoyed the same clout to request compliance with the surveys. In a February 1995 letter to Western Report, Mr. Bruce Petrie of Statistics Canada writing in reference to an article which suggested the possibility of misleading statistics concerning violence against women said, “In past years when formal approval of new data collections was requested from successive ministers, not once during the 15 year tenure of the current Chief Statistician (Fellegi) and his predecessor was any survey substantively discussed with any minister, let alone subject to any order, request or hint that it be modified.” Mr. Petrie also said that we (Statistics Canada) “go to great lengths to maintain our hard earned reputation for objectivity, impartiality and professionalism.”

The increasing paucity of abortion data renders interpretation impossible and is completely unacceptable, particularly to those in the medical health sciences and to educational resource centres such as Action Life. Every statistic listed under medical case items and demographics is important in assessing the impact of abortion on a woman’s health (post-abortion trauma, physical and psychological damage, suicide incidence, infertility, sterility and the increased risk for developing breast cancer after even one abortion). Compelling international research studies including some funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute refute the idea of “safe” abortions.

Twenty-eight of 37 international epidemiological studies show that even one abortion increases the risk of developing breast cancer by 30% later in life. If it is a first pregnancy the overall risk is 50%. This risk increases for those under 18 or over 30 and is compounded for those with a family history. The limited detailed records available for 1999 indicate that 21% of abortions were done on girls 10 to 19 years of age. Also, the very limited detailed records for complications immediately after the hospital abortion indicates that 80% of the girls under 15 had at least one complication and 22.2% of those girls 15-19 had one immediate complication.

Despite repeated unsuccessful efforts to meet with the then Minister of Health, Hon. Allan Rock and the previous Minister Responsible for Statistics, Hon. John Manley, we continue to reiterate that this inadequate data is inexcusable. The new Minister currently responsible for Statistics is the Hon. Allan Rock. Dr. Fellegi is answerable to the Minister responsible for Statistics.

Accurate statistics are needed to examine the relationship between marital status and abortion incidence. The sparse data base for 44% of the Therapeutic hospital and clinic abortions performed (excluding Ontario) indicates that only 10.4% were married women with 60% classed as single, separated/divorced/widowed or common-law. Within this category 29.5% were listed as marital status unknown! Accurate abortion statistics are increasingly important for demographic and immigration decisions. The Montreal Gazette (March 11/00) reports that the number of women seeking abortions in Quebec has doubled in the last two decades (30,702 in 1999). The increase in abortion numbers has coincided with a sharp drop in the birth rate which has resulted in the population of that province falling below the replacement level.

In 1995 Nancy Miller Chenier, Political and Social Affairs Division, Research Branch, Library of Parliament released a study titled “Costs of Abortions done in Canada” which showed that in the fiscal period of 1992-1993 the cost for induced abortion in hospital and clinic sites was at least $51,646,926 payable from the public purse. Ms. Miller Chenier stated that she found the task of calculating the annual cost of abortion procedures to be a “complex and inexact process.” Why should this be? From a monetary standpoint alone this information would most certainly be ‘relevant’ to the Canadian public who are worried about hospital bed shortages and the rising costs for medical care.

Since abortion is classified as a “health” matter, then every anonymous statistical aspect of abortion should be a matter of public record. The Federal Task Force on Health released a one year report in 1996 which stated that, “One of the Forum’s concerns is that consumers are not getting the information they need to make decisions about their health.” Pregnancy is not a disease and induced abortion is an elective procedure. And no plausible excuse can be found for concealing exactly how many Canadian babies die each year by induced abortion.

Action Life Online Article

By Lyn Smith 

Last modified on Saturday, 03 November 2012 17:00
Published in Statistics