OTTAWA, Ontario, May 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After pro-life activists discovered that the Ontario government had quietly passed a bill blocking access to the province’s abortion data even with a Freedom of Information request, the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care has defended that exemption in a statement emailed to LifeSiteNews.
“In January, Ontario hospitals became subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. At that time the government made several amendments to FIPPA in order to address unique records managed within the health care sector.”
“There are various reasons for wanting to exempt a certain type of record from FIPPA. Records relating to abortion services are highly sensitive and that is why a decision was made to exempt these records,” the statement continued.
“The collection of data relating to abortion services in Ontario has not changed, and the amendments to FIPPA introduced in January do not affect how abortion statistics are reported.”
An amendment to the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) was silently slipped into a larger bill titled “An Act to increase the financial accountability of organizations in the broader public sector.” Part VIII of the 2010 Bill 122 amended FIPPA so that the act “does not apply to records relating to the provision of abortion services”. The Bill received Royal Assent in December 2010 and came into effect at the beginning of this year.
Numerous transcripts from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario record no debate on the issue of restricting access to abortion data in the province.
Pro-life blogger Patricia Maloney broke the story earlier this month after the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term denied her access to abortion statistics under the newly amended FIPPA provisions.
“It all happened under the radar,” wrote Maloney in her blog earlier this month, calling the government’s strategy to exemption abortion data from FIPPA a form of “despotic secrecy,” comparing it to something from the “world of Orwell.”
Dr. Margaret Somerville, professor of law and director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, slammed the Ontario government for making secret “the facts on abortion” in an op-ed piece that appeared last week in the Calgary Herald.
“The government … just want[s] the issue of abortion to go away and hope[s] that secrecy of information will help to achieve that outcome,” she said.
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Dalton McGuinty, Premier and leader of Liberal Party of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1
Ph: (416) 325-1941
Tim Hudak, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
4961 King St. E, Unit M1
Beamsville, ON L0R 1B0
Ph: (800) 665-3697
Contact list for all Ontario MPPs here (http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/members/members_current.do?locale=en&list_type=all_mpps&go=go).