ONTARIO, 11 December, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An illustrated graphic released by one of Canada’s leading national newspapers is being welcomed by pro-life activists after it showed life-sized illustrations of unborn children next to statistics about how many babies that age are being aborted.

At 9-12 weeks, for instance, where 41.2 percent of babies are aborted, the image shows a small baby with already discernible toes, fingers and eyes.

“I was absolutely thrilled to see a secular news source cover this,” Jonathon Van Maren, communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, told LifeSiteNews.

The graphic provides a breakdown of abortion statistics by province, mother’s age, baby’s age, and includes data about whether the mother had previous abortions or other children, the number of abortion complications, and the abortion method.

The graphic reveals that 93,755 induced abortions were reported across Canada in 2009, and that the vast majority of them were carried out on college-aged women 20-24 who aborted their babies when they were between 9 and 12 weeks gestation.

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However, the National Post acknowledged that the official data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) are incomplete, and underestimate the number of abortions. Currently private abortion clinics (as opposed to hospitals) are not required to report data, while the CIHI data have excluded the number of abortions in whole provinces.

Recently the Ontario government quietly passed legislation to block access to the province’s abortion data, even with a Freedom of Information request, further obscuring the statistics.

Van Maren told LSN that he believes the “big battle” that the Canadian pro-life movement faces is to “destroy the cognitive dissonance” that exists in the minds of Canadians who know what science and embryology reveal about the unborn baby while at the same time supporting abortion.

Cognitive dissonance happens, he said, when someone holds “two completely opposite sets of facts or world views.”

“I thought that the National Post did a brilliant job of taking ostensibly very bland information and using it to destroy that cognitive dissonance by showing us these pictures of what a baby really looks like prior to being aborted,” he said.

“I expect that a lot of casually pro-choice Canadians are going to look at the images of these babies — so clearly discernibly a person — and are going to be feeling very uncomfortable that they are being aborted at that rate in Canada.”

Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer for Campaign Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews that the graphic “points out the horror of abortion, namely that there are real babies that look like persons who are being killed by abortion at a certain age.”

Douglas said there is “nothing new” in the data, and that the college-aged group of women has had the “highest abortion rate” since abortion was legalized by Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government in the late 1960s.

She also said she believes the graphic deals a blow to the idea that legislation to block abortion after 20 weeks would be effective. The graphic “shows that the idea of offering protection to unborn babies after 20 weeks is totally ludicrous, since the majority of abortions are done before the 12th week,” she said.

“This graphic shows that you won’t save any babies with the gestational approach.”

John Jalsevac contributed to this report.