This article by Mike Schouten was published in the National Post on Thursday, May 2.
Abortion data is difficult to find in Canada. And advocates of Canada’s laissez-faire abortion-on-demand status quo like it that way — as the lack of publicly available information makes it difficult for their opponents to build a case.
Currently, two provinces (Ontario and British Columbia) have laws that serve to block the promulgation of abortion-related statistics. Indeed, as of 2010, Quebec has stopped submitting data to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. These jurisdictions ensure that any data pertaining to abortion falls outside the parameters of the Freedom of Information Act.
Even pro-choice advocates should find this situation problematic. If it is true that Canadians support the status quo — i.e., Canada’s status as the only developed nation in the world without any form of abortion law — then surely they have nothing to fear by permitting the publication of relevant data about abortion, especially data pertaining to the gestational age of fetuses.
A few months ago, Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett — a pro-choice advocate — wrote on her blog that she was “fed up” with the alleged misrepresentation of the abortion issue by pro-lifers. She wrote: “No physician in Canada can terminate a pregnancy over 24 weeks without serious indications such as if the life of the mother is at risk, or if the fetus has very serious malformations.”
It would be nice if that were true. But we have no way of verifying the claim, and Ms. Bennett knows it.
We do, however, have means to debunk that claim — albeit only via anecdote evidence.
Last month, for instance, pro-life blogger Suzanne Fortin wrote about an interview conducted by Montreal talk show host Isabelle Maréchal of 98.5FM, with a caller identified as Karel. It came during a segment entitled “Is abortion too trivialized?”
Karel indicated that she is 33 years old and has had five abortions. That alone is disturbing. But even more disturbing is what Karel said about her fifth one, which she says took place at the CLSC de Faubourgs on Rue Sanguinet in Montreal when she was 26 weeks pregnant.
When Ms. Maréchal asked Karel if this abortion was a result of a high risk pregnancy or if her life had been in danger, Karel replied, “No, I had no problems.” When pressed by Ms. Maréchal as to how this could happen in a government-run clinic, Karel simply affirmed that it was at the CLSC on Rue Sanguinet.
They think abortion should be a free-for-all. It’s information about abortion that they want to keep under lock and key
My first inclination would be to go back to MP Bennett, and confront her with this information, which refutes her previous claim about a 24-week maximum for discretionary abortions. But she would simply reply that there is no way to substantiate the story without proper records. And she would be right — which gets us to the cynical reason why pro-choicers like the current information vacuum just fine.
In short, they think abortion should be a free-for-all. It’s information about abortion that they want to keep under lock and key.
Keep in mind that we are not talking about tracking something trivial, like the number of potato chips Canadians buy. The discussion surrounding abortion includes issues relating to women’s health, detection of genetic traits during pre-natal development, and most importantly, a vulnerable member of the human family: the pre-born child.
American founding father James Madison once said: “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both.”
That was right then. And it’s right now. Without the release of abortion-related information, Canadians can’t have an intellectually honest discussion about this crucial issue.