Canadian Abortion Statistics – Hitting the Glass Ceiling

[Detailed abortion] “Data of this kind are likely to figure prominently in any future debate on abortion. However, since the abortion law was struck down in January [1988], the collection by Statistics Canada of detailed data on abortion is now in question since the provisions of the Criminal Code relied on to gather the information are no longer operative. Unless a new abortion law or some legislation expressly sets out the kind of data to be collected, it is doubtful whether meaningful information on abortion in Canada will be available after the publication of that collected for 1987..”

Library of Parliament Abortion: Legal Aspect, Monique Hebert, Law and Government Division Revised 18th September 1989

Should you wish information or to study trends in living with chronic disease, cancer survival, prevalence of obesity, causes of death in the armed forces, unintentional injury in teenagers, recent trends in upper respiratory and ear infections and it goes on, the place to go is Statistics Canada except if you want induced abortion statistics

You would have to go a long way to find statistics as abysmally inaccurate as those provided (or not) by Statistics Canada and now the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Having said that I must say that my endeavors, to obtain the annual Adverse Events Report on Gardasil, from the Canadian Public Health Agency, has hit a similar brick wall currently.

In 1969 when our abortion law was liberalized, Statistics Canada was given the responsibility of reporting the number and the demographics and medical case items for each abortion. This meant the compilation of anonymous data from hospitals which included:

  1. The marital status and age of the mother at the time of the abortion
  2. The gestational age of the child
  3. The method of abortion
  4. The number of previous abortions
  5. The number of previous pregnancies
  6. The number of miscarriages
  7. Concurrent sterilization
  8. Any complications, arising immediately from the surgery

Initially this was performed efficiently. In 1985 Dr Ivan Fellegi became the Chief Statistician of Canada and in 1986 he advised the Minister of Supply and Services to cease compiling figures for induced abortions because, “they did not give a precise and worthwhile picture of therapeutic abortions done in Canada”

David Bray, Director of Health Services, Statistics Canada was quoted as saying that this was, “a cost cutting measure” and that ”the figures weren’t relevant to most Canadians”

This despite the fact that induced abortions had risen annually from 11,000 in 1970 to 69,752 in 1986! The Minister responsible for Statistics Canada reversed the decision and she reported in the House of Commons in November 1986, “The method of compiling [abortion] figures will be changed to provide a more precise picture of therapeutic abortions performed in Canada.”

Dr Marion Powell an abortion advocate and former Privy Council member noted that induced abortion was the most frequently performed procedure in Canada however she said that, “because of a lack of consistency in the reporting of abortion statistics, the actual number of abortions performed in clinics can only be estimated..”

Readers may wonder why we are going back this far but in a 1997 Family Planning Perspectives: January/February, Volume 29, Number 1, we learnt that abortion, “..will effect 34% of Canadian women in their lifetime (1 in 3) if the 1993 rate for a first abortion prevails..”

In 1993, it was announced that the newly created Canadian Institute for Health Information would be given the mandate to provide a “comprehensive and integrated system of health information”. Dr Ivan Fellegi served as the vice-chairman and the institution was described as a, “new non-governmental organization”

Colleagues of ours endeavoured to meet with Statistics Canada and the Minister of Industry for several years to express their concerns regarding the still poor reporting. They finally were able to meet to express their concern about the need for accurate information for women considering abortion. The expressed the importance of requiring statistics which would provide clarity on the aftermath of abortion on women’s health.

It was and remains important that we know how many women have been affected by the psychological or physical side effects of abortion. It is important to have statistics which draw the picture regarding depression, trauma, infertility, sterility, increased risk of breast cancer and premature birth after abortion. These statistics will help us protect women’s health.

In 1996, our colleagues met with representatives at the Canadian Institute for health regarding the inaccuracy and missing abortion statistics. They drew little comfort from this meeting although it was acknowledged that researchers in other fields of health also felt that mores statistical information would also be beneficial.

The matter of inaccurate and missing statistics has continued to be a tremendous problem in Canada and with provinces increasingly uncooperative in providing figures, clinics not reporting and the quality of reporting from hospitals declining it appears that women’s health after abortion is of no concern to our government!

In 1995 when Nancy Miller Chenier, Political and Social Affairs division, Research Branch of the Library of Parliament, reported on the financial cost of abortions in Canada for the years 1992-1993, she provided some interesting insights. She described the calculation of the annual cost of abortion procedures in Canada as a “complex and inexact process”. Using the most conservative figures based on 100,000 annual abortions, Ms Chenier estimated the cost for same day hospital and clinic procedures to be a very “relevant” $51,645,926.00!

Statistics Canada – About Us

Objective statistical information is vital to an open and democratic society. It provides a solid foundation for informed decisions by elected representatives, businesses, unions and non-profit organizations, as well as individual Canadians. As a member of the United Nations Statistical Commission, Statistics Canada.

Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics

The Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics were adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission at its special session held from April 11 to 15, 1994.

Principle 1

Official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society, serving the Government, the economy and the public with data about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation. To this end, official statistics that meet the test of practical utility are to be compiled and made available on an impartial basis by official statistical agencies to honour citizen’s entitlement to public information. See more here:

Honorable Christian Paradis
Minister of Industry
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5
Telephone: 613-995-9001

Chief Statistician
Smith, Wayne
Chief Statistician of Canada
Telephone: 613-951-9757

So, in order for politicians and the public to make informed decisions and to ensure we have an “indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society” we need official statistics “compiled and made available on an impartial basis by official statistical agencies to honour citizens’ entitlement to public information”

Please forgive us but WHERE ARE THEY or is Canada no longer a democratic society.

Our own personal experience in trying to obtain complete and comprehensive statistics on abortion would fill two volumes. Since 1992 Ontario has not allowed us to have statistics which until then we asked for and were provided with very easily. See attached information for Ontario hospitals and clinics 1974 – 1992.

Suddenly, in 1994 we were refused the hospital and clinic numbers and now only receive the overall provincial figures from the Canadian Institution for Health Information with its national release.

2011 was the most confusing year regarding statistics that we have ever lived through. As always, we are three if not four years behind in receiving abortion numbers.  We contact CIHI or Stats Canada for information on when to expect the new releases. Well this year Statistics Canada tell us that CIHI is now, not only responsible for the collection and compiling of the statistics but also the release of them. Dutifully we called the abortion division at CIHI only to be told that NO we only collect and compile, we are not set up for releasing, that is Statistics Canada’s responsibility.

Well suffice it to say that it really does not matter who releases the figures, they are still a shameful presentation of national statistics. For instance, the 2007 figures released for Canada inform us that 98,754-98,762 abortions were performed with 32,331 performed in Ontario.

A POWER Report released two weeks after the CIHI statistics, notes that in Ontario there were 37 abortions per every 100 live births in Ontario in 2007. When I did the math that meant that there were actually 51,800 abortions in Ontario in 2007 not the 32,331 reported by CIHI.

Of the Canadian numbers, detailed reports were only available for 30% of the abortions in total. This represented 75% of the hospital abortion information and virtually none of the clinics. Clinics in New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia have not provided any detailed reports. In 2007, CIHI reported that private clinics performed 51,481 induced abortions and provided no information that would assist in gauging the impact of abortion on women’s health! We have a whopping 65,000 abortion statistics with no meaningful detailed reports.

In 2009 CIHI reported that of the 93,755 induced abortions performed in Canada, clinic abortions are now well over half of that total at 52,115.

Under a Freedom of Information request, blogger Pat Maloney was provided information regarding 2010 induced abortion statistics in Ontario.

There were at least 43,997 induced abortions in Ontario in 2010 and at least 77 were what is termed “fetal reduction procedures.” For us ordinary folk you are carrying twins and you have one killed.

The sad reality is, because Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information appear to have no power to insist that detailed reports are provided for induced abortion we remain unable to obtain a clear picture of abortion’s effect on women’s health. Who this serves, I do not know but it certainly is not women.

In the past the Minister of Industry and the Chief Statistician have had the power to mandate reporting – maybe we should insist that one or other of them do so again. Alternatively, provinces might consider not paying out insurance coverage to physicians, private clinics or hospitals who do not provide a detailed report for every abortion they claim payment for – now there’s a novel idea.

CIHI Induced Abortion updated 2008 Statistics
CIHI Induced Abortion updated 2007 Statistics
CIHI Induced abortion statistics 2009
POWER Report Reproductive Health
Abortion Stats 2010 Ontario


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One Response to Canadian Abortion Statistics – Hitting the Glass Ceiling

  1. Garry Sahl January 29, 2012 at 11:43 PM #

    Canada ought to have a Parliamentary Bill passed into law, to ensure that accurate abortion statistics are collected by and presented to The Public Health Agency Of Canada, by law. The Nazi Government and Supreme Court passed over 400 laws legalizing their crimes against humanity to suppress the truth. This ought not to be happening in Democratic Canada,thus setting precedents for more of this to come.

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