Stats, Stats, and more Stats

Blaise wrote a post recently about B.C. not releasing abortion numbers. A letter in the Ottawa Citizen tries to fill the numbers for Canada as a whole:

Re: People show biases by using numbers wrongly, June 11.

In his letter, Robert Riordan disputes letter-writer David Morse’s statement that there has been a tenfold increase in the rate of abortions in Canada since 1970. He takes Morse to task for using the word “rate” rather than numbers.

The statistics show a tenfold increase in the numbers of induced abortions performed on Canadian women from 1970 to the present. However, Riordan’s claim that the number of abortions “became reasonably stable within a few years” after 1970 doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Using data from Statistics Canada, we find 11,152 abortions in 1970, with the numbers increasing almost yearly and reaching a high of 111,709 abortions for the year 1997. These are the numbers that Riordan calls reasonably stable.

From 1998 to 2004, the abortion numbers did decline slightly, but continued at over 100,000 a year, from 110,331 abortions in 1998 to 100,039 abortions in 2004.

If we examine the rate of induced abortions per 100 live births, we also find a tenfold increase. Statistics Canada reported the rate of induced abortions per 100 live births was 3.0 in 1970 and 31.0 per 100 live births in 2003.

The statistics for the year 2006 showing 91,377 abortions for the country seem to indicate a decline but data are missing. As Statistics Canada cautions the reader, abortion clinics in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Manitoba did not submit their numbers.

Additionally, the Canadian Institute for Health Information estimates that as of the data year 2000, “the Therapeutic Abortion Survey database represents approximately 90 per cent of all abortions performed in Canada on Canadian residents.” At the very least, the abortion numbers hover at 100,000 annually.

Louise Harbour, Ottawa

Executive director,

Action Life Ottawa

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