In September, 2008, the Conseil pour le statut de la femme deposited a study1 shedding light on the availability of abortions in the province. We, at the Quebec Life Coalition, thought it worthwhile to highlight some of its findings and to point out its lacunae.
First, let’s look at the statistical information as found in the first of the study’s four chapters. The wealth of data, presented in tabular form, principally covers 2006, though contrast is done with the previous four years. These tables describe the distribution of abortions according to sixteen regions of the province, according to the type of facility where the abortions were performed, according to both the kind of procedure used and the age of the recipients, and more. For example, the following notes some of the numbers:
- Abortions – yearly, province-wide: 28 198 2
- Abortions – daily average: 80
- Abortions – daily average, Montreal: 30
- Number of abortion facilities in Montreal: 20
- Percentage 1st trimester abortions – prior to 14th week: 92 %
- Percentage of late-term abortions: 8% (2256)
- Percentage of abortions in women (15-34 years): 80%
Note that these figures are on the underside. The study’s author lamented that the statistical information was drawn from the record keeping branch of the provincial health agency – i.e., la Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec – RAMQ. As this latter is primary interested with health care, their record keeping plays second fiddle. « …l’Institut de la statistique du Québec estime, dans une de ses études, que l’écart entre le nombre réel d’avortements pratiqués et celui qui est comptabilisé s’établit à 6 % .»3 Hence, we may be looking at another 1700 abortions per year in Québec.
A second troublesome point concerns repeated abortions. These latter are understood to mean when two or more abortions occur within the past five years. The author rightly points out the strong link between repeated abortions and violence done to women – whether psychological, sexual, or physical. Yet, as this study purports to be for the province of Québec, no data for the province is given, but only that for Canada in general, the United States, and France. Hence, an important lacuna exists.4
2. Ibid., p. 3.
3. Ibid., p. 13.
4. Ibid., p. 18-19.