OTTAWA, May 2, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Canadian Institute for Health Information's (CIHI) recently released data on induced abortions committed in Canada for 2012, which appears to show a continuing drop in abortion numbers.
However, as in past years, there remain gaping holes in the data and inconsistencies in abortion reporting requirements in various provinces, making it impossible to determine accurate abortion statistics for the country. This has been compounded by a new regulation in Ontario that specifically prevents abortion statistics from being released in response to a Freedom of Information request.
According to the 2012 report, there were 83,708 abortions carried out in Canada that year in both hospitals and clinics, down from a reported 90,747 for 2010.
Though the 2012 report includes abortion numbers from Quebec, which were absent from the 2010 report until it was updated in February of this year, the new report continues to note that Quebec data and Ontario clinic data includes only induced abortions covered by the province’s health insurance plans. This would exclude abortions committed at private clinics.
Moreover, the CIHI states that it produces these statistics based on hospital discharge records and not from medical billing records, further skewing the numbers.
The CIHI states in its report that while hospitals are required to report abortions “there is no such legislative requirement for clinics to report their activity (reporting is voluntary).” They also note that for 2012, as in past years, “clinic data for British Columbia is incomplete.”
The numbers provided by CIHI also do not include abortions performed in private physician's offices and medical abortions.
The vast discrepancies apparent in 2010 CIHI data were revealed by statistics obtained by Patricia Maloney of the Run With Life blog through a freedom of information request to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. While the CIHI reported 28,765 abortions for Ontario in 2010, Maloney found that there were 18,330 abortions committed in doctors’ offices, 16,055 in private facilities and 9,612 in hospitals, for a total of 43,997 abortions committed in Ontario that year.
However, a similar request by Maloney regarding the 2012 data met with a roadblock from both Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews and from a surreptitious amendment to the Ontario's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). That amendment came into effect in 2012 and provides that the Freedom of Information act “does not apply to records relating to the provision of abortion services.”
Maloney said that Matthews replied to her repeated attempts to obtain accurate data by saying, “I'm sorry that the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) was unable to provide you with the statistics you were looking for.”
“You'd think that Ms. Matthews would be embarrassed by the fact that CIHI can't supply us with accurate data,” said Maloney. “But no. She lives in an alternate universe where her government's ability to produce accurate numbers of abortions is optional. From this I can only conclude that Deb Matthews knows that her government is neither open, nor accountable nor transparent; and that the abortion exclusion clause was enacted for purely ideological reasons.”
Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer for Campaign Life Coalition, decried the deficiency of the information provided by CIHI.
“These statistics are not only useless, but bogus,” Douglas told LifeSiteNews. “Certainly statistics on any other topic are accurate and up to date before they are published. If they were reporting on the coils of copper used in Canada they would be accurate to a centimetre and current.
“But the tragic part is that we are talking about human life being taken – we're talking about piles of dead babies, and they can't give an accurate statistic. Maybe when they start realizing that these are human beings, even in death these babies will get some of the respect they didn't get in life.”
The 2012 abortion statistics report is available at the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s website here.