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The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reported 85,195 induced abortions for 2018. Hospitals accounted for 26,498 abortions and 58,697 abortions were performed in a clinic setting.

CIHI reported 94,030 abortions for 2017. Has there been an actual decline in the number of abortions in Canada? In 2017, the abortion pill Mifegymiso became available in our country. Women can obtain a prescription for the abortion pill from their family doctor or obtain it from a clinic and use the drug regimen at home. How many abortions were done by using Mifegymiso in 2018? We do not know.   According to Global News, “…CIHI researchers said it was not possible to know how many of the reported cases involved the drug.” Do the 2018 statistics capture any of the Mifegymiso abortions? 

There remains a long standing problem with abortion statistics in Canada with some abortion clinics at times not reporting their numbers. Additionally, abortion clinics do not report demographic data such as gestational age of the child, method of abortion, complications, previous induced abortions and previous deliveries. Since abortion is publicly funded in almost all private clinics, they should be legally required to provide a full accounting including number of abortions and demographic data.

The private abortion clinic in New Brunswick, which does not receive public funds, did not report the number of abortions done at its clinic in 2018. Hospital abortions are publicly funded in New Brunswick.

  • CIHI tells us in the following notes:

-Information on gestational age is not available from clinic data or from Quebec data.

-Information on the number of previous deliveries is not available from clinic data or from Quebec data.

-Information on the number of previous induced abortions is not available from clinic data or from Quebec data.

-Detailed information on the type and method of abortion is not available from clinic data or from Quebec data. 

-Information on complications is not available from clinic data or from Quebec data.

-Complications during subsequent visits, transfers or readmission for cases where the health care number was not recorded during the initial visit or hospitalization are not included; complications may therefore be undercounted.

 Why is clinic reporting so dismal? The simple answer is because it is merely voluntary for clinics to report abortion data but not for hospitals. CIHI explains that “Hospitals are mandated by their provincial /territorial ministry of health to report all hospital activity (not limited to abortion);therefore, coverage of abortions performed in Canadian hospitals can be considered complete. However there is no such legislative requirement for clinics to report their activity (reporting is voluntary).” 

Here’s what we do know from hospital data (excluding Quebec) for 19,444 hospital abortions as reported by CIHI:

As concerns the number of previous deliveries, for women undergoing abortion, out of 19,444 hospital abortions: 7,465 had one or more previous deliveries. 6,908 had no previous deliveries.  For 5,073 abortions, the number of previous deliveries is unknown.

Number of previous induced abortions as reported by Canadian hospitals (excluding Quebec):

9,390 had no previous abortions.

3,155 had one previous abortion.

1,845 had 2 or more.

The number of previous abortions is unknown for 5,054 hospital abortions.

Gestational age of the child as reported by Canadian hospitals (excluding Quebec):

8 weeks or less: 6,649

9-12 weeks: 5,975

13-16 weeks: 1,560

17-20 weeks:783

21+ weeks: 659

Unknown : 3,818

Combined data for hospital and clinic abortions by age group, show that the numbers were highest for women in their twenties.

  • 19,894 abortion were reported for women aged 18-24.
  •  21,051 abortions were reported for women aged 25-29.
  • age of the mother at the time of abortion was unknown for 9,193 abortions.

Annual abortion statistics are not merely numbers. They represent the death of thousands of unborn human beings. Until we have complete abortion statistics in Canada, we cannot know if a decline actually occurred in the number of abortions in 2018.