VANCOUVER, British Columbia, February 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – When an Angus Reid poll last month showed that 51% of Canadians believe there should be laws dealing with the country’s unrestricted access to abortion, and 60% of Canadians believe Ottawa should enact a law outlining whether a woman can abort her child based solely on his or her gender, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) denounced the poll’s questions as misleading and biased, saying that they “rendered the answers invalid.”
Joyce Arthur, executive director of ARCC, accused Angus Reid on The Mark a week and a half ago of “promot[ing] anti-abortion politics while pretending to be neutral and unbiased.”
But Mario Canseco, vice president of Angus Reid Public Opinion, responded on the same day in the Vancouver Sun that it is “common for people who represent lobby groups and associations with a solitary goal to express doubts when they realize that, to their astonishment, not all Canadians agree with the point of view they have chosen to defend.”
“The reaction from people who disagree with the findings because they find themselves in the minority is usually the same,” said Canseco. “’Everybody I know agrees with my point of view,’ they say. ‘So the questions have to be biased.’”
Arthur took exception to the wording of two questions which she argued were misleading to the respondents. She accused the authors of the poll of creating a false dilemma where “someone is asked to choose between only two options when other options are available.” She argued that since Canada has “successfully and responsibly” managed abortion practice since 1988 by “policies, codes of ethics, clinical protocols, and the medical discretion of health-care professionals,” then “no special laws are needed for abortion.”
“In Question 1, Angus Reid sets up this false choice between ‘a law or no law’ for abortion in general, even though both options are poor choices and framing them this way represents misinformed anti-choice propaganda,” she said.
Arthur critiqued answer 1b as “misleading” since she said that it is “simply not true” that Canadian women currently have the unrestricted right to have an abortion at any time up to the moment of birth. That answer, in response to the question of whether there should be laws on abortion, had said, “There should be no laws on this matter – a woman should have the unrestricted right to have an abortion at any time up to the moment of birth.”
“Almost all abortions occur before the end of the second trimester (24 weeks), and none at “the moment of birth,” she said.
Canseco rebutted Arthur’s arguments, saying that “the burden of a legislative issue [should not be placed] solely in the hands of medical professionals” who are not the competent authority to deal with “question[s] related to policy.”
Canseco further lambasted Arthur for taking to task the wording of the answer when ARCC’s own website defends what the organization calls a “constitutionally-based right to unrestricted, fully-funded abortion, without legal or other barriers or discrimination due to gender, class, ethnicity, race, age, location/region (or area of residence), or any other characteristic, including reasons for choosing an abortion.”
“This is not something we wrote—it is the second affirmation in the ‘Our Vision’ section of the ARCC website,” said Canseco. “Ms. Arthur now writes that this ‘unrestricted right’ does not exist, yet it certainly does in her own organization’s documentation.”
Canseco pointed out the absurdity of Arthur’s show of support for Canadian doctors who, as she had said, “adhere to medical policies and protocols that effectively restrict abortions after 20 weeks (except in critical cases)” while at the same time heading an organization that champions the “right to unrestricted… abortion.”
“It is remarkably easy for activists to render a survey as invalid when the findings show that the public disagrees with their desired outcome,” said Canseco, pointing out that “Canadians have consistently told us that they are not satisfied with the fact that there are no laws on abortion in this country.”
“We are used to this reaction. It is part of the job of figuring out what people think. Still, the only ‘false dilemma’ here occurs when Ms. Arthur, having failed to acknowledge that Canadians disagree with her point of view, endeavours to steer the conversation into the credibility of a polling company.”