A majority of Canadians are misinformed, and many are divided about laws and facts surrounding abortion, according to a poll.
An Angus Reid public opinion poll found that 80 per cent of Canadians are unaware abortions can be legally performed at any point during a pregnancy. The poll, which surveyed 1,002 adult Canadians, also found that 43 per cent of Canadians feel their provincial governments should provide more services and funding for women who decide to terminate their pregnancy.
The survey was conducted as a means to get a broad, national snapshot of public opinion. But some experts say feel the situation in Quebec is better than in other provinces.
“The laws in Quebec are the best in Canada surrounding abortion,” said Anne-Marie Messier, Director of Le Centre de Service des Femmes de Montreal, a women’s help centre.
For example, she said, since new legislation was introduced in January 2007, Quebec women no longer have to pay to abort pregnancies.
Before 2007, the Quebec government only partially funded abortions performed in private clinics 8212; an action that a 2006 Quebec Superior Court ruling deemed was in violation of the Canada Health Act.
An abortion at the island’s Morgentaler clinic used to cost $350. But now, Quebec is one of seven provinces where the government pays the full price of an abortion, whether performed in a private or public clinic. In other provinces, patients are still forced to foot at least some of the bill. In Nova Scotia, for example, the government provides only limited funding to clinics. The New Brunswick government provides none.
While Quebec women may be in a better position in this regard, Messier noted that abortion laws differ from region to region within the province. After the government started subsidizing abortions, demand for the procedure spiked at some private clinics. In an effort to control the demand, the government placed quotas on the number of abortions performed at five private clinics in Montreal. This, she said, is an area the government needs to improve upon.
“Women should have the choice of being allowed to go to a clinic or a hospital,” she said. “And the best we can do if we past our quota is refer them to another place.”
But some people would like to see fewer abortions being performed.
Yvonne Douma, director of The Signal Hill, an anti-abortion organization, said she feels the government is not providing enough information about other options regarding unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.
“Sixty-five per cent of women will suffer from emotional distress,” Douma said, talking about the effects having an abortion can have on one’s psychological state. “And the government needs to provide more support to help them deal with this.”
Many women, she said, often feel alone when dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, without adequate information to help them with their decision.
With more information and options available, Doumas said there would likely be a change in the abortion laws and a decrease in abortion all around.
“Women have a right to know the facts.”