Abortion In Canada Is A Legal Vacuum
Canada is a lot like the United States. It has similar demographics, geography, and political landscapes. Canada is essentially the United States with more liberals and French speakers.
But, with more liberals come more radical laws. And Canada epitomizes this when it comes to abortion laws, or lack thereof.
Canada has no abortion laws.
Abortion laws in Canada let you abort a child anytime up until birth.
Yes, the law allows abortion even after the baby is viable, which is where the radical leftists in the States want to set abortion limits at. US radicals would love Canada’s abortion laws.
This is why Canada is the Wild West of abortion.
Elective abortions, under the law, can happen for any reason, at any time during the pregnancy. Not only that, but since 1988 there are no laws restricting abortions, as per the Supreme Court in R v Morgentaler.
The reasoning? Restricting abortion infringes on women’s rights. Go figure.
It gets even better.
In addition to being legal, abortions in Canada are taxpayer funded. Aside from the odd abortion that doesn’t get reimbursed for whatever reason, abortions are legally required to be funded by the state. The Canada Health Act mandates funding for “medically necessary services” and abortion falls within this qualification, in every circumstance.
“Medically necessary” is a meaningless qualifier since the Canada Health Act doesn’t define what it is, and governments (both provincial and federal) don’t require any proof of necessity to front the bill.
To the pro-choice radicals in Canada this is not enough. They complain that even though abortion is legal, it not accessible at certain stages of pregnancy—or at least not widely accessible.
Domestically, Canada is failing the utopian expectations of the far left.
However, internationally Canada is a bastion of liberal ideals, since they now are one of the biggest exporters of abortions worldwide. Canada has recently pledged $650 million to help fund abortions abroad.
To recap: Canada has no abortion laws.
But don’t worry they are in good company. Canada joins the liberal human-rights loving countries of China and North Korea as one of three countries to have no laws limiting abortions.
Even Vietnam can no longer say that.
In this article I will (briefly) outline the messy history of Canada’s abortion laws. I will then look at the actual abortions statistics in Canada, public perceptions, and how abortion plays out in practice.
I will end by outlining what exactly unrestricted abortion means, and finally, warn my US readers that this is what the Democrats have in store for us.
Is Abortion Legal in Canada? Yes
The first logical question to ask is whether abortion is legal in Canada.
It’s more complicated than you’d think, so here’s the history of abortion law in Canada.
Abortion in Canada was illegal up until 1969.
Two years before that, the Minister of Justice, Pierre Trudeau, introduced an omnibus bill that included legalizing abortion. The bill was crammed full of other laws relating to things like contraception, divorce, and homosexuality.
When introducing the bill, Trudeau uttered one of his most famous quotes.
There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation. What’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.
Trudeau was a popular man, and he later became leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister of Canada.
Under his government, his new Minister of Justice brought an amended bill forward (since the other one died upon prorogation of Parliament), which became known as the infamous Bill C-195.
The bill allowed abortions if the women applied for permission from a therapeutic action committee.
The committee would allow an abortion only if the life of the mother was in danger. This law actually wasn’t too radical, since hospitals were not forced to set up these committees and each one interpreted the legislation very differently.
Boy did that change.
Fast forward to 1982 when the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was added to the Canadian Constitution. This was given authority over all legislation, meaning that legislation would be struck down if it didn’t comply with the Charter.
Now here’s where things go belly up.
R v Morgentaler and the Last Abortion Laws in Canada
In a 1988 case called R v Morgentaler, the Supreme Court completely upended Canadian abortion laws. The Court ruled that restricting abortion in this way infringes on women’s Charter rights.
From Chief Justice Dickson who wrote the majority decision:
Forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction to carry a foetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations, is a profound interference with a woman’s body and thus a violation of her security of the person.
Essentially, abortion laws in Canada can’t be restrictive because it interferes with women’s rights unless they are heavily justified (which they have yet to be).
As many pro-life advocates point out, this totally ignores the rights of the fetus, or the father. But those arguments are simply beyond the scope of this article.
Needless to say, Canadian abortion law rests on just as faulty a foundation as the tripe regurgitated by the regressive left. For another example of this, take a look at what Justice Wilson wrote in her concurring decision:
It is probably impossible for a man to respond, even imaginatively, to such a dilemma not just because it is outside the realm of his personal experience (although this is, of course, the case) but because he can relate to it only by objectifying it, thereby eliminating the subjective elements of the female psyche which are at the heart of the dilemma.
Yes. A man cannot understand abortion, or do anything about it, because he is a man.
I implore anyone genuinely curious about what other asinine drivel the Justices spouted to read some of their other quotes from this decision. It may shock you how intellectually vacuous their statements truly are.
And for anyone out there thinking “they are Justices on the Supreme Court of Canada, they can’t be that stupid” I suggest you watch Mark Steyn brutally demolish former Justice Louise Arbour in a debate about the global refugee crisis.
She sat on the Supreme Court for 5 years.
Legal experts are just that: legal experts.
They are not experts in philosophy, biology, immigration policy, or climate change. The reverence of them and their opinions on policy needs to stop from all across the political spectrum.
Since Morgentaler, few cases have made any real changes or modifications to abortion law.
The Supreme Court has since held that a fetus is not a human being under the Quebec Charter.
Parliament, however, has at least half-heartedly tried to curtail abortion by tabling 46 separate motions and bills since 1988.
Needless to say, all of these attempts have failed, and the law of the land is still Morgentaler.
For a more detailed look at the jurisprudence surrounding abortions in Canada, click here.
The Current State of Canadian Abortion Laws
What does this all mean?
It means that, in Canada, there are no current laws restricting abortions.
Women can theoretically get an abortion for whatever reason they want, at whatever time during the pregnancy they want, as long as the fetus is not through the birth canal yet. This includes past the point of the fetus being viable outside of the womb.
The rule is, if it’s inside you, you decide its fate.
Parliament has recently tried to reopen the debate.
In 2007, Bill C-484 tried to provide protections to unborn fetuses from third party attacks. This bill was actually approved by the House of Commons, but later died on the order.
There was also a motion put forward in 2012 by Member of Parliament Stephen Woodworth to start a committee to determine when life begins under the eyes of the law. This motion failed during the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership.
The “conservative” party.
So in Canada, abortion is legal, and you aren’t allowed to question it lest you be socially and politically ostracized.
Also the “conservative” party in Canada doesn’t even want to debate it. Great.
Canadian Abortion In Practice
Well that’s the law. But what about abortion practices? Canada doesn’t seem like North Korea or China, does it?
Fortunately, abortion in Canada is more nuanced than that.
In Canada there is a code of professional ethics for doctors that don’t let them abort babies after 24 weeks of gestation albeit two exceptions: if the mother’s life is at risk, and if there are serious malformations in the fetus.
Further, the Canadian Medical Association puts additional limits on abortion. They ensure that abortions cannot occur if the potential fetus is viable, which they define as either being at 20-weeks gestation or weighing over 500g (about 1.1 lbs).
The limits on abortion in Canada are not legal though, and theoretically these standards could change, especially with the growing progressive movement in Canada pushing for full access to abortions up until the legal limit.
What Does the Public Think About Canadian Abortion Laws??
Now we know that there are no laws restricting abortion, but what about Canadians opinions generally? How knowledgeable are they about abortion in their own country? Would they agree if they did knew?
Unsurprisingly, the public is pretty uninformed on the subject altogether.
As of 2013, 45% of Canadians think it’s illegal to get an abortion after 12 weeks. This makes sense, since this is a common cutoff point for many developed countries and it marks the end of the first trimester.
When told that abortions are completely unrestricted under the law, only 35% of respondents actually agreed with the status quo, and only 43% said the healthcare system should fund it without restrictions.
Looks like Canadians are a lot more pro-life than the media makes it look.
Now, how many Canadians are in favor of unrestricted abortion?
Different polls show varied proportions, but all of them show roughly half of Canadians believe theoretically in unrestricted abortion.
In a 2016 Ipsos Reid pol, 6 in 10 (57%) respondents were in favor of abortions up until the day the child is born. This means that whenever a woman wants an abortion, she should be able to get one.
Back in 2012, only 49% of Canadians thought abortions should be allowed whenever the woman wants one, and 45% believed abortion should only be permitted in certain circumstances.
The most recent data is from another Ipsos Reid poll done in 2017. It showed that 77% of Canadians say abortion should be permitted in at least some form, and 53% agreed that it should be whenever the woman wants.
As a caveat, this last poll doesn’t reveal much by methodology, and although I contacted them for comment and clarification, they did not reply regarding how the poll was actually conducted.
The methodology section leaves a lot to be desired; it excludes the questions asked, the demographics of the sample, and it just says “countries surveyed generate nationally representative samples in their countries.”
Also the American Thinker suggested that Ipsos Reid has a liberal bias, so perhaps take these surveys with a grain of salt, especially in reference to the preceding data.
A more conservative poll conducted by Life Canada, a pro-life advocacy group, found that 60% of Canadians believe in some legal protection for the fetus at some point before birth. Additionally, 65% of respondents believed that abortion should be illegal in the last trimester and about a 50/50 split believe the same for the second trimester.
But no matter what poll you choose to believe, two things are noteworthy:
- Most Canadians do not know the abortion laws in their country.
- At the very least, a large proportion of Canadians don’t agree with the state of the law.
No matter which way you look at it, the law does not fully represent the will of the people. This is a problem in any democracy, especially for something as contentious as abortion.
Abortion Statistics in Canada—The Actual Numbers
So far I’ve covered the state of the law and public perception about abortion, but how many abortions are there in Canada every year? What are the actual abortion statistics?
This question is harder to answer than it should be. Here’s why.
Abortions in Canada are tracked by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Every year they compile the data reported by hospitals and private clinics across Canada and put it in a spreadsheet that is accessible to the public.
The problem? Private clinics are not compelled to report the number of abortions they perform. This could prove to be a huge gap in the data, since private clinics perform 2 to 5 times the abortions hospitals do, depending on the province.
Also, the data collected on private clinics is based off of insurance records. This does not include abortions that were paid for out of pocket.
But, the CIHI does its best to get an accurate number, and honestly there just isn’t enough data out there to get a better one. Keep in mind that this number could be much higher.
In 2015, there were a reported 100,104 abortions in Canada.
How Many Late-Term Abortions Are There in Canada Each Year?
For the purposes of this article, a late-term abortion refers to when the fetus would be viable outside of the uterus, since that is the logical stopping point for when many people can justify killing it. When the fetus could reasonably be called a baby, then it would be a “late-term” abortion.
So how many late term abortions happen in Canada per year?
They estimate about 500 fetuses that are viable outside of the uterus are aborted each year. But it’s probably more than that.
According to the CIHI, in 2015 there were 587 abortions after 21 weeks. This was taken from hospital records that showed gestational age (as seen below).
This data is just hospital data. If we assume the same distribution among private clinics, this would total 2,502 late term abortions per year.
That still probably underestimates the actual number.
As you can see, almost 20% of the abortions have an unknown gestational age. If we assume an equal distribution of the unknowns go to each category, we would get 726 abortions after 21 weeks performed in hospitals.
If we then use this new percentage for total abortions, including private clinics, we get a new number of 3,085 late-term abortions per year.
This means that there are 3,085 fetuses that are potentially viable outside of the uterus.
There may be reason to suspect this is even higher. The unknown category could very well be over-represented with abortions after 21 weeks. This makes sense if you think about the greater difficulty pin-pointing age with increasing gestational time and the increasing obstacles doctors face the farther gestation has gone along.
The CIHI also claims that 98% of these abortions are elective, and are not due to health risks.
This brings the total number of elective abortions in Canada to at least 98,102 with approximately 3,000 of them being fetus that could potentially survive outside of the uterus.
Compared with the United States’ statistics on abortion, Canada’s abortion rate is enormous.
In 2014, the US had 540,537 abortions with a population of 319 million. In 2015, Canada had 100,104 abortions with a population of 35.85 million.
This means that abortion rates in Canada are 65% higher than the US.
How Much Do Abortions Cost Canadian Taxpayers Every Year?
As mentioned before, abortions are fully funded by the Canadian government, and therefore Canadian taxpayers. So how much do government-funded abortions cost Canadian taxpayers each year?
As it turns out, quite a bit.
Remember that all abortions all required to be funded by the taxpayers via the government. This includes the private clinics, as long as the abortion is “medically necessary.” As I mentioned before, the “medically necessary” qualifier is meaningless because the government doesn’t require proof and it presumes that abortions are “medically necessary” if they are performed.
In 2011, Allissa Golob estimated that the Canadian government spent $80 million on abortions that year. This was a very conservative estimate, using deliberately low costs to prove a point.
Current prices of abortions are hard to pinpoint and (what I can only expect to be) deliberately hidden.
As of 2017, the pro-life activist group RightNow estimates that abortion costs Canadian taxpayers $100 million a year. This calculation assumes a rough cost of $1000 per abortion. Of course this has its flaws, since the rough cost might not appropriately weight how much costlier abortions are when performed in hospitals.
By using cost estimates from the pro-choice activist group, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, the results are a little different. The say that, on average, abortions cost $700 in private clinics and $1500 in hospitals. Both these numbers are for early procedure abortions (the cheapest) and show a wide discrepancy because of different anesthesia practices (hospitals use general anesthetics, private clinics use local anesthetics).
So in 2015, for 31,911 abortions at $1500 per abortion, this gives us $47.9 million just in hospital abortions. With 68,193 abortions at private clinics for $700 a piece, this gives us $47.7 million. Between private clinics and hospitals this gives us a total of $95.6 million for 2015.
This means that abortions costs Canada almost $100 million per year.
The Hidden Costs of Abortion
And it may be more. Again, this is a low estimate.
It doesn’t take into account the increasing costs that comes with waiting longer to get an abortion. It also doesn’t take into account hidden costs such as lost social capital, the cost of lost productivity in dealing with peri-abortion issues (eg. associated depression, complications in abortions, political costs, and many more.
The Campaign Life Coalition also pointed out that the lost tax revenue from potential taxpayers is enormous. Personally, I think this is a suspect argument, but it’s worth thinking about. With all the extra people this increases the amount of potential entrepreneurs and black swans that could potentially be bringing enormous economic growth.
The opportunity costs are real.
Do Canadians Want to Pay for Abortions?
Now what does the public think about this? I’ve already established that many of them are not educated about abortion generally, but what do they think about paying for abortions?
Well regardless of their stance, the majority of Canadians disagree that abortions should be paid for by the government.
Polls in Ontario showed that 91% of people were unaware that abortions were funded by taxpayers. Also, 61% opposed any government funding of abortions.
The rest of Canada seems to agree. Only 43% of Canadians thinks that abortion should be funded outside of medical emergencies, of which there aren’t many.
Whatever Canadians think about abortion; their government certainly doesn’t seem to care. Even though the majority of the country thinks abortions should not be funded by the healthcare systems, they are.
Much like views and laws regarding late-term abortions, there is a similar disconnect between the funding itself, and Canadian views about that funding of abortions as well.
Just as a side note, taxpayers not only fund elective abortions, but sex-selective abortions as well.
In Canada, some Indian-born mothers are electing to have boys over girls. This has been linked to an uptick in second trimester abortions after they learn what the sex of the baby is and it could account for nearly 4,400 missing live-births of females.
This is archaic.
Again, most Canadians don’t even think this should be legal. When asked, 92% of Canadians say sex-selective abortion should be illegal in Canada. This has led to politicians across the country calling for doctors to not perform sex-selective abortions.
But how would doctors know?
If someone has the moral dearth to abort a fetus because it isn’t the gender they want, do you really think they will have any qualm lying about it?
Get a grip.
The truth is this is just one of many issues that sprout up in the land of the lawless. And for the moment, Canadians are just going to have to live with it.
Hopefully they don’t go the way of China.
Canada’s Abortion Laws: The Blueprint for the USA
Canada’s abortion laws (or lack there of) are a direct blueprint for the United States.
Over the last few decades the Democratic party has grown more and more radically left on a lot of key issues; including abortion.
The upper echelon of the Democratic leadership now pushes for total abortive freedom and anything less is a slight to women’s rights.
Don’t believe me?
Barrack Obama voted for essentially Canadian-style abortion law back when he was in Illinois Senate. He voted against a bill that would have ensured doctors were required to perform life-saving services to fetuses that survived induced abortions and that would have classified them as human persons under the law.
Obama said as much during the the floor debate back in 2001:
And if we’re placing a burden on the doctor that says you have to keep alive even a previable child as long as possible and give them as much medical attention as – as is necessary to try to keep that child alive, then we’re probably crossing the line in terms of unconstitutionality.
He voted against 4 of those sorts of bills under the guise of unconstitutionality. Since then he has made his pro-choice views much more openly in different contexts.
Pat Buchanan wrote an excerpt on Obama’s stances in Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?:
In the Illinois legislature, Obama blocked the proposed Born Alive Infant Protection Act, a bill to protect infants who survive abortion. He promised supporters he would sign a “Freedom of Choice Act” to repeal all legislated restrictions on abortion, state and federal.
He continued that Obama did much more when he took office:
Taking office, he opened the door to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and, by executive order, repealed the Reagan-Bush prohibition against using tax dollars to fund agencies broad that perform abortions.
Most recently, Obama made it clear that if a bill was passed that supported late-term abortion bans, he would veto it.
But he’s not alone in the Democratic party.
Hillary Clinton supported abortions up until the fetus passes through the life-giving birth canal. She did this under the guise of “a woman’s right to choose” and other such silly euphemisms and distractors.
She fully contended that a child has no rights even hours before birth. I suppose she has never heard of premature births, or perhaps they are just “a bundle or cells” according to her and her ilk.
Recently, the current Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman, Tom Perez, said that new candidates for the Democratic party must believe in this extreme version of “pro-choice” stances. He says:
Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.
It’s clear that pro-life candidates are no longer welcome in the Democratic party.
And virtually all Democrats support Planned Parenthood; an organization that puts quotas on abortions and that sells fetal parts for profit. Not only do Democrats support it, they think Planned Parenthood should be fully funded by the state (the taxpayers).
The Democratic party has drifted so far to the Left on this particular issue that it is evident that, if they had it their way, abortion laws in the States would almost directly resemble that of Canada.
And if you think the Constitution and the Supreme Court can save the US from being like Canada, just look at Justice Ginsburg.
She once wrote in the North Carolina Law Review that Roe v Wade was wrongly decided, and should have instead been upheld using the Equal Protections clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Her argument: women get pregnant, men don’t, therefore abortion should be legal.
Supreme. Court. Justice.
Summing Up Abortion Laws In Canada
To wrap up, here are the important points:
Canada has no abortion laws.
Virtually all abortions in Canada are taxpayer funded. Most Canadians don’t like this.
Canada has 100,000 abortions a year. This is a low estimate.
Of those, 3,000 of those are late-term abortions, and 98,000 are elective.
Abortions cost Canada $100 million per year. This is, again, a low estimate.
Finally, this is what the Democratic party wants for the United States.
That is why Canada is the Wild West of abortion laws.