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A depiction of an unborn baby at about 10 weeks gestation

OTTAWA, December 8, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – About 117,000 abortions were done in Canada in 2014, according to extrapolations from numbers just released by a federal health data agency, but the numbers reveal those killing babies outside of hospitals in clinics and doctors’ offices are under-reporting by nearly half.

Pro-life leader Mary Ellen Douglas of Campaign Life Coalition warns lest the individual victims get lost in the statistics, “One is too many.”

“Every single number represents a human being put to death before he or she had a chance to live,” she told LifeSiteNews after reviewing the latest numbers from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

CIHI reported 81,897 abortions in 2014, down by just under 1,000 from 2013’s total of 82,869. But pro-life activist and freedom of information crusader Patricia Maloney says the number is incomplete because abortion clinics report only voluntarily, while doctors who abort unborn children in their offices do not report at all to CIHI.

CIHI numbers for Ontario in 2010 were under-reported, based on comparisons to information (received through Freedom of Information requests) from that province’s own health insurance billings until Ontario excluded abortion statistics from its Freedom of Information law in 2010. Maloney was able to estimate the under reporting at 44 percent, she told LifeSiteNews.

Now CIHI’s new data for British Columbia can be compared with health insurance billings from that province released in May. While CIHI records 9,196 abortions—5,072 of them reported voluntarily by abortion clinics—the province’s health ministry reports 13,067 billings: an under reporting to CIHI of 42 percent.

“We’re guessing,” said Maloney, who has just published a link to CIHI’s 2014 report on her Run with Life blogsite, “but BC’s data strongly suggests that because of underreporting from abortion clinics and non-reporting from doctors’ offices, CIHI’s numbers are low by almost half, and the real total for Canada is up above 115,000.”

Other prolife campaigners won a long battle with the Ontario government through freedom of information for detailed abortion statistics in 2000, only to have that right taken away by legislation in 2010. Ever since, Maloney has been fighting for government abortion data all over again under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

She says abortion statistics matter. “How do we make policy decisions about anything? How can we debate policy in the first place? That’s why we have Statistics Canada. To help us understand so we can make decisions,” she told LifeSiteNews. Only with comparable numbers over time can Canadians know what their tax dollars are being spent on, Maloney argues, or what age groups are having the most abortions, or how many women are getting their second, third or fourth abortions.

CIHI’s numbers show a continued decline in total abortions: It recorded 90,747 abortions in 2010, for example, 8,850 more than this year. But Maloney refuses to comment or speculate on such trends, given the incompleteness of the data. However, a similar decline is shown in British Columbia’s billing information, which is deemed complete because it beggars the imagination that an abortionist would decline to bill.

Similar declines are reported in the United States, which pro-life activists attribute to legislation at the state level of numerous restrictions on abortion requiring parental consent, wait periods, or patients to be shown ultrasound images of their unborn children. As well, there has been an upswing in vigils outside clinics, such as mounted nationally by 40 Days for Life.

In both Canada and the United States pro-abortion activists also claim credit for the abortion decline.  After British Columbia released its 2013-14 data in May, Joyce Arthur of Canada’s Abortion Rights Coalition told LifeSiteNews, “Increased availability and use of contraception is the major factor. Other factors in my opinion are improved sexual reproduction health and services and information, liberalization of abortion laws, increased status of women, and alleviation of poverty.”

However, American pro-life researcher Michael New rebuts these claims, arguing that the increase in contraception predates the abortion decline by too many years to be the cause of it, and that variations in income do not correlate at all with abortion rates.

Campaign Life Coalition’s Douglas commented, “Governments want to hide the numbers just like they want to hide the 4 million abortions done in Canada since legalization. God only knows who among them would have become doctors or scientists who would have improved our lives with their discoveries. What does God make of these precious people we have thrown back at him?”