Pro-life blogger submits arguments in case to obtain Ontario’s abortion stats
OTTAWA -- A pro-life blogger suing the Ontario government over its refusal to provide access to provincial abortion statistics has submitted the written arguments to Ontario’s Superior Court. The court is expected to hear the case at the end of October and issue its decision three to six months later.
“When governments are allowed to hide information, it prevents us from being allowed to keep them accountable to us for how they are spending that money,” Patricia Maloney, who blogs at Run With Life, told LifeSiteNews.
"Good stats for all medical procedures are crucial. Abortion is no different."
With the help of constitutional lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos, Maloney is hoping to convince the court that the Information and Privacy Commissioner erred last year when it upheld a previous ruling from the Ministry of Health denying her request for the province’s abortion statistics.
In 2010, the Ontario Liberal government quietly amended its freedom of information law with Omnibus Bill 122 that in part excluded “records relating to the provision of abortion services” from freedom of information requests.
The amendment passed without debate or public scrutiny. It did not appear on the public radar until 2012 — the year it came into effect — when Maloney related on her blog that her request for abortion statistics had been denied. It was then that she discovered the new law.
Maloney’s exposé on the amendment captured the attention of national media. Stories appeared from top commentators such as Margaret Somerville in the Calgary Herald and Barbara Kay in the National Post.
Maloney believes that the new law excluded abortion statistics from public scrutiny for “ideological reasons” since no other Ontario medical services were excluded.
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“I have tried numerous times to get the government to provide me with reasons why they did it. They refuse to. I even met with my MPP Madeleine Meilleur on this issue. She couldn't (or wouldn't) tell me why abortion services were excluded. She told me to contact then Minister of Health Deb Matthews, which I did. She also refused to provide me with a reason,” she told LifeSiteNews.
Maloney and her lawyer Polizogopoulos argue that the whole purpose of the quietly-passed Bill 122 was ostensibly to “improve transparency and accountability,” not to “be a blanket ban on generalized, non-identifying data for a taxpayer funded medical procedure.”
They argue that the Ministry of Health and the Information and Privacy Commissioner erred in denying the release of abortion stats on the grounds that providing them would contravene the newly enacted law. The error violated Maloney’s right to freedom of information, expression, and of the press, the factum submitted to the Superior Court states.
Polizogopoulos believes Maloney has a compelling case.
“The section at issue is a blanket prohibition on disclosure of all documents relating to abortion. It was done in the context of a bill which sought to make the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act wider,” he told LifeSiteNews.
Maloney believes the public has a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent and that abortion stats should be of interest to any tax-payer.
“Statistics are important, otherwise how do we know if abortion rates are going up or down? Pro-choice advocates like Joyce Arthur, will tell us they are going down, and they will tell us that there are less than a half percent of late term abortions. Well how can they know these things if we don't have accurate statistics,” she said.
“And how can we know complication rates from abortions or how many women are dying from abortions if we don't have accurate stats? Good stats for all medical procedures are crucial. Abortion is no different.”
Maloney is seeking to have the commissioner’s ruling overturned, to have her original request for the abortion stats granted, and costs.