It’s time Canada started regulating abortion. We are advocating for a law that would ensure all women seeking abortion have access to independent counseling, and a 48-hour waiting period between requesting and receiving an abortion. This law would also ban abortion after the first trimester.
Right now, Canada is way out of line with international counterparts when it comes to protecting pre-born human rights. A few examples:
France has an abortion law which protects pre-born humans after 12 weeks gestation. The only exceptions are if the “pregnancy poses a grave danger to the woman’s health or there is a strong probability that the expected child will suffer from a particularly severe illness recognized as incurable.”
Spain has a law that bans abortion after 12 weeks gestation. In cases of foetal impairment there is an exception, but only up to twenty-two weeks. If that is the reason then two specialists, other than the doctor performing the abortion, must certify that the child would suffer from severe physical or mental defects.
Germany allows abortions on request until 12 weeks provided the woman receives proper counselling three days before the procedure. The state-regulated counselling is required to inform the woman that the pre-born have a right to life and to try to convince her to continue her pregnancy.
These countries are secular, pluralistic nations much like Canada, and they all recognize the need to protect the interests of pre-born children at some point. In Canada, however, where 100,000 abortions occur every year, up to 15% of abortions occur after the first trimester. The Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) reports that 12.7% of abortions occur at 13 weeks or later, and another 2.4% occur after 20 weeks, including when the baby would be viable outside the womb. This amounts to approximately 15,000 pre-born children per year, with up to 2,500 of those being aborted after 20 weeks, based on the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s estimate of total abortions annually in Canada.
As abortion clinics are not required to report statistics such as gestational age, it is difficult to know exactly how many babies are lost at each stage of pregnancy. It is possible, however, to know how Canadians feel about this reality. A 2013 Angus-Reid poll found that 45% of Canadians believe that current laws in Canada only allow a woman to have an abortion without restrictions during the first three months of pregnancy. A 2011 Environics poll of 2,000 Canadians found that 58% of Canadians think abortion should be generally illegal after the first trimester, and this jumps to 77% in the third trimester. Clearly, our laws are not lining up with the reality of what Canadians either believe or want, and we need to work to change this.
In a 2010 study of Western European and North American abortion stats, it was clearly shown that counseling combined with a waiting period dramatically impact the abortion rates. Canada, which has neither a waiting period or a counseling requirement, and no gestational limit, has an abortion rate of 241 babies aborted for every 1000 live births. Germany and Belgium, which have counseling, waiting periods, and a gestational limit, have a rate of 163 and 152 per 1000 respectively. This is considerably lower than Canada!
For more information on why we would fight for an International Standards Abortion Law targeting late-term abortions, as opposed to a full ban on abortion, please read our paper on gestational limits explaining why starting with protecting some is better than protecting none.
WATCH: Learn how to answer common questions about this law.