The Hidden Victim in the Game of Abortion Statistics

 By Lyn Smith 

If you are an avid Solitaire player you may have opened a new deck of cards and after several game variations sensed that something was amiss: the game simply could not be won. You then discovered that the deck was short one ace.

In the game of abortion statistics which is being played out by the Canadian Institute for Health Information(CIHI) and the Health Care Statistics Division of Statistics Canada, it has become obvious with the release of their "annual" figures for therapeutic induced abortions that all four aces for Accuracy, Comprehensiveness, Full Disclosure and Frequency have been pulled, rendering the statistics almost meaningless.

On March 31, 2004, three years after the fact, Statistics Canada published on their website The Daily, their survey of the figures compiled and provided by CIHI for therapeutic induced abortions performed on Canadian women in 2001.

The numbers indicated that 106,418 induced abortions were performed in 2001 (175 of those were reported by American States). The Canadian hospitals reported 61,227 abortions and the clinics reported 45,016.

For the whole of Canada for every 100 live births there were 31.9 babies killed by induced abortion. British Columbia, however, had a ratio of 39.2 deaths by induced abortion per 100 live births, Quebec had a ratio of 42.2 deaths for every 100 live births and the Northwest Territories headed the pack with 46.7 deaths per 100 live births. It should be noted that in 2001 Statistics Canada predicted that there would be more deaths than births in Canada by 2025 due to the declining birth rate and an aging population. (In order to avoid a population collapse a replacement rate of 2.1 children is required. )

The number of reported induced abortions rose from 105,427 in the year 2000 to 106,418

in 2001; that was an overall increase in the national rate of abortions from 15.4 in 2000 to 15.6 in 2001. This rate was based on 1000 women between 15-44 years of age. The Northwest Territories rate was 28.3; Nunavat was 22.7; Quebec was 19.6; British Columbia was 17.7 and the Yukon rate was 16.7

Even using the incomplete information which Ontario provided for 2001, we see that Ontario continued to have the most abortions of any province (38,827 or 36.5%). You may recall that in 1999 Statistics Canada wrote that "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." As a result, for the first time since the abortion statistics had been published the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) failed to provide the figures for the total number of abortions performed on Canadian women in 1999. In 2001 we had an ‘aggregate' count for Ontario but we were also advised that the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care "no longer maintains a system for the collection of detailed information on abortions performed in Ontario clinics but, instead, uses the billing system of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) to provide counts of clinic abortions to the Therapeutic Abortion Survey". This means that information is no longer available for clinic abortions performed on non-residents of Ontario or on Ontario residents who do not submit a claim to OHIP. In fact only the province of Alberta provided detailed records for their 5,325 clinic abortions. Detailed breakdowns for clinic abortions are not available from any other provinces or territories. This is a disgraceful omission when you consider that the percentage of abortions done in clinic settings has risen to 42.4% of the total abortions listed in the Database.

For many years the detailed records in the Database provided an anonymous profile of the women seeking abortions: marital status, age of the mother, gestational period for the child at the time of the abortion, previous deliveries, previous abortions, initial procedure used to abort and immediate complications after the abortion. With regard to the issue of data accuracy Statistics Canada made thie point in their 2001 Therapeutic Abortion Survey that "for data years 1970 to 1987, the coverage of the survey was considered to be 100% of all induced abortions performed in Canada." In 2001 the detailed records in the data base plummeted to 46.2% of the known combined numbers for hospital and clinic abortions: the smallest amount of detailed information since the inception of the abortion reports in 1970.

From the sparse detailed records we can calculate that 19.5% of the abortions were done on an age group starting at 10-19 (9,615 females) while 51.5 % were done in the 20-29 age group (25,264) and 25.1% were done on women in the 30-39 age group (12,313). From the detailed records available we can determine that at least 36.9% of the women underwent more than one (repeat) abortion. The initial procedure listed for abortion was primarily Suction D & C (94.6%) but under the procedure category ‘Other' (0.1%), 49 abortions can be calculated - were those late term Dilatation and Extraction?

Under Selected Characteristics - Gestation Period we see that at least 1,619 babies were over 16 weeks of age when aborted; yet under the category Complications by Gestation Period, complications are listed for babies 13-16 weeks, 17-20 weeks and finally over 20 weeks. Complications occurred for 15% of the women whose babies were over 20 weeks when aborted. Also, under First Reported Complication a sub note indicates that 2 deaths were reported by hospitals although they are classed in the breakdown as an amount too small to be expressed as a percentage distribution.

Many people monitoring the abortion statistics have suspected since 1986 that there has been an agenda to suppress and to eventually eliminate the release of the abortion figures.

Within the 2002 Survey Report of the 1999 data Statistics Canada indicated that they "collect and compile the numbers and rates of abortions and selected demographics and medical information about women obtaining abortions in Canadian and U.S. hospitals and clinics". In the 2004 Survey Report for the 2001 abortions, however, the words were changed to read, "The purpose of the Therapeutic Abortion Survey is to provide some basic indicators (e.g. counts and rates) on induced abortions. Information from this database is also used in the calculation of pregnancy statistics, especially for teen pregnancies. Traditionally, teen pregnancy statistics provide information by the subgroups 15-17 and 18-19. These subgroups are not available or imputed on the Therapeutic Abortion Survey Database" (as obtained by CIHI since 1995).

They indicate that CIHI in its new responsibility for data collection sent out a one-page survey to private clinics in Canada who supply aggregate counts only. CIHI also obtained data from provincial/territorial/ state departments of health or directly from hospitals and clinics. Depending upon the source the format can also vary from a single sheet of paper providing only aggregate counts with most of the data element fields remaining blank to detailed electronic records submitted through CIHI's Discharge Abstract Database.

In 2000 the detailed records indicated that 13% of the women were married at the time of their abortion. In 2001 the Survey notes that "The Discharge Abstract Database, the major source for hospital abortion data, no longer collects marital status as of fiscal 2001-02.....Consequently only 13% of total records (hospital and clinic abortions) contain a known marital status." Even this limited information is not in the Therapeutic Abortion Survey breakdown.

Statistics Canada also points out that the word "therapeutic" in their survey is retained only in the interest of ‘historical continuity'. Before 1969 the law permitted induced abortion if the life of the mother was endangered. After 1969 they introduced the word "therapeutic" to cover abortion for "health" reasons, although health was never defined. To quote the 2004 Survey Report, "In 1988, with the removal of abortion from the Criminal Code, a reason for obtaining an abortion was no longer required." (italics mine).

So there we are. Despite all our arguments that detailed comprehensive and demographic statistics are imperative in determining the long term psychological and physical effects of abortion on women's health, our appeals have been ignored. The authorities are so determined to provide abortions on demand that Life Canada learned from the Ontario Ministry of Health in September 2004 that they sent 56 women for late term abortions (defined as after 20 weeks) to the United States in the fiscal year 2003-2004 at a cost of $397,514.00 (more than $7,000.00 per abortion). According to Life Canada's press release of September 23/04, "The government's proposed solution to this scandalous situation is to open and fund a private clinic in Quebec to specialize in late term abortions" because this approach would eliminate the need for women to travel to the U.S.

In this ongoing game of burying abortion statistics which is being manipulated by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, it is obvious that the fate of the unborn child is irrelevant. To put it bluntly, the unborn child is the sacrifice on the altar of personal convenience. There is only one certainty: Canadians in the 31 years from 1970 to 2001 impassively sanctioned and financed the deaths of at least 2,483,476 babies awaiting birth.

Lyn Smith is a member of Action Life Ottawa (Inc.).

Action Life News, 2004

Published in Statistics