By Patrick B. Craine

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, August 19, 2009 ( – A survey of Canada’s obstetricians and gynaecologists has found that more than half do not perform abortions, and more than half of these doctors do not do them due to their personal beliefs, reports the Medical Post. Though inconclusive, the survey’s results are “encouraging,” said one pro-life leader.

Dr. Caroline Laroche of Saint-Luc Hospital in Montreal conducted the survey by e-mail and presented her findings at the 65th annual meeting of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOCG) held in Halifax last June.

Dr. Laroche e-mailed her survey to the 562 members of the SOCG e-mail list, and received 170 completed surveys, equalling a 30% return rate – a good return, according to the Medical Post.

Of the respondents, 60.6% said that they do not conduct abortions. Respondents could indicate more than one reason why they did not do abortions. The largest reason cited was personal beliefs, with 50.5% of those who do not perform abortions indicating so, meaning that over one third of total respondents do not conduct abortions due to personal beliefs. Nearly a third, 33.7%, said their reason was that others in their hospital or practice did them, and 23.8% said it was because of their community’s opinion.

“Quebec has the most widely available abortion services,” said Dr. Laroche. “Doctors working in the Prairies are less likely to provide abortions.”

The survey would seem to indicate a movement away from abortion among obstetricians and gynaecologists. According to Dr. Laroche, the last such survey was conducted in 1991 by the SOCG, who found then that 51% of ob/gyns did abortions. Based on the limited nature of her survey, Dr. Laroche was not sure if her results necessarily indicate there are fewer doctors doing abortions, but, according to the Medical Post, she did say that, from her pro-abortion point of view, the results were “troubling.”

She suggested that there may be fewer abortionists today because fewer doctors have witnessed severe injuries or deaths caused by back-alley abortions, which, she says, encouraged doctors in the past.

“Training can have an impact on decisions to provide abortions,” she said.

Campaign Life Coalition’s Jeff Gunnarson called Dr. Laroche’s results “good news,” saying that “it’s both encouraging and interesting that they are claiming it’s their … personal beliefs, that they’re bringing that into it.”

“You often hear the rhetoric,” he said, “that … as a doctor, you can’t bring your personal beliefs between you and the patient, … and so that’s encouraging and interesting.”

Responding to Laroche’s position that the results are troubling, Gunnarson said, “Well, I think we’ve always known that, on a personal level, if you could talk to people one-on-one, that you’ll find, as you do with most of the Canadian public, that they trend toward being pro-life. And this small sample I think confirms that, while at the same time it tends to be … perceived, at least, that those in the medical profession are trending the opposite way, … towards being pro-abortion.”

“I think if we have a third of the ob/gyns saying that they would prefer not to do abortions because of personal beliefs,” he said, “then, I have to believe that most Canadians are probably of the same view. Therefore, why isn’t there discussion about this in Parliament?”

“It now seems that we have a professional association that does abortions or that could do abortions, and yet a third of them are saying, ‘Ah, you know what, I wouldn’t do them'” added Gunnarson. “I think that really helps our momentum.