We're a 'pro-choice country'; Poll: 91% of Canadians support women's right to abort pregnancies but are split on who should foot the bill
Monday, 23 June, 2008
The Toronto Sun
An overwhelming majority of Canadians continue to support women's right to abort pregnancies, but a recent national survey found the country is split when asked who should foot the bill.
The online Angus-Reid poll -- conducted June 4 and 5 of 1,000 adult Canadians -- found 91% of respondents supported abortions under certain circumstances, and only 5% would outlaw it altogether.
Of those polled, 49% said abortions should be legal under any circumstances, and 42% agreed abortions should be allowed under only certain conditions.
RAPE, INCEST CASES
A total of 22% said they approved of abortions only in the case of rape, incest, and medical emergencies, and 7% said abortions should be allowed only to save the mother's life.
Ontario and British Columbia had the highest support for allowing all abortions at 50% each.
According to Carolyn Egan, a spokesman for the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics, the pro-choice support is not surprising.
"Canada is very solidly a pro-choice country. There is no doubt about that," she told the Sun yesterday. "I think there is a minority in this country who feel abortion is wrong ... but I think we're moving beyond (the debate)."
When it comes to funding abortions, though, there is not the same level of support.
The same poll found 44% of respondents thought the public purse should only pay for abortions that were medical emergencies.
Four percent think the health-care system should never fund abortions.
Egan said the numbers surprised her, but that they may not truly reflect people's thoughts on the issue.
She said many younger women, low-income women and women from rural areas could not afford abortions if they had to pay for them themselves, and so if the public system didn't pay for their procedures, it would amount to discrimination.
Also, denying those women publicly funded abortions would force them to either go through a pregnancy they aren't prepared for, or look for illegal abortion sources, she said.
"People think about the use of their health-care dollars, of course, but once you get into the discussion with them and explain the circumstances, most people would be quite supportive of the health-care system paying for the procedure for women," Egan said.
"I think you then find that most people would be quite sympathetic."