Youth Protecting Youth

Defending the Dignity of All Human Life

Canadians’ Awareness of Abortion Law




Some time ago, the We Need A Law campaign released this graphic showing the results of a survey. Canadians were asked “As far as you know, when can an abortion be performed in Canada?” Only 8% answered correctly: abortion can be legally performed in Canada “any time up to 9 months.” Babies aren’t recognized by the law until they proceed entirely from the birth canal, actually; there is no abortion law in Canada. And judging from a recent local firsthand account, this lack of regulation does indeed result in relatively late abortions, right here in Victoria.


Why might we find abortions that happen later in pregnancy more distasteful? We might expect the results of earlier abortions to be less graphic and recognizable to view because the unborn baby is less developed. On some level, this is true. However, it’s worth noting that by 3-4 weeks, the baby’s brain, spinal cord and heartbeat are present, and the woman might not even know she is pregnant yet.

But when we forget that each unborn baby is human and start focusing on his or her level of development, we begin to lose our respect for all human life. With that said, we can still use the huge gap between what Canadians believe about abortion law and statistics and the reality as a starting point for conversation. When we bring an important and controversial issue to light, it’s helpful to establish common ground with those who we hope to educate. And with so few Canadians well-informed about these issues, there’s plenty of opportunity for dialogue.

4 thoughts on “Canadians’ Awareness of Abortion Law

  1. This post is incredibly misinformed and (intentionally?) misleading. Yes, it’s true that there is no law preventing pregnant persons from obtaining abortions at any point during their pregnancy in Canada. Like you said, the law doesn’t recognise a fetus as a person until it has fully emerged, alive, from the birth canal. However, the trap you and the creators of the poll run into is ignoring (again, intentionally? or just out of ignorance?) the fact that abortion clinics in Canada are strictly regulated by the CMA. No clinic or hospital in Canada performs abortions after 24 weeks (unless there is a serious threat to the pregnant person’s life or the health of the fetus)– and only in Ontario can patients seek abortion care up to 24 weeks. Restrictions vary by province/territory; in Nunavut, for example, abortions are not performed after 12 weeks– in Alberta, not after 20 weeks.
    Moreover, despite your “recent local firsthand account”, abortions after 20 weeks are exceedingly rare, and the majority of abortions are performed within the first 12 weeks.
    I have no delusion that these facts will change your mind about the morality of abortion, and that is not what I’m trying to achieve by writing this; however, if you would like to see less confusion surrounding abortion restrictions/laws/legislation then I would advise you to be less confusing, and to stop manipulating the truth to suit your aims. How can we have productive discussions about abortion if people are going to be intentionally obtuse and misleading about how abortion regulations operate in Canada?
    (Spoiler alert: we can’t.)
    Go back and read the question in that poll again; it states, “as far as you know, when can an abortion be performed in Canada”. It does not even mention the legality of abortion or at what point Canadian LAW restricts abortion, and it doesn’t take into account differing provincial regulations. You don’t need a research methods class to tell you that that is a poorly worded, biased question. Having no law restricting abortion is not the same as having no abortion restrictions.

    • You are correct to say that abortions performed past 24 weeks are rare. But this is not because they are restricted by any sort of political or medical regulation or law. This is because most Canadian doctors choose not to offer late term abortions in their practice. However, late term abortions do happen in Canada, and if a doctor does begin a practice in Canada offering late term abortions, it would be entirely legal in our country. Therefore, the article is correct in stating that abortion is legal in Canada through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason or no reason.

      Even if late-term abortions are rare, each life taken is a great injustice. According to a June 2012 survey commissioned by Postmedia News and Global TV, 60% of Canadians would like to see abortion restricted to the first and second trimester. Clearly most Canadians want to see some restrictions. However, we want to eliminate all abortions, as each preborn child is a human being,and must have the same human rights as you and I.

      • Like I said, the question in the survey makes no mention of the LAW regarding abortion. It asks “when can an abortion be performed in Canada?” As there are a number of restrictions placed upon abortion services, it is incorrect to claim the answer to this question to be “any time up to 9 months”. And late term abortions ARE restricted by medical regulations, even if they are not coded into Canadian law; it is NOT merely up to individual doctors’ choice. To reiterate what I stated in my previous post, I know what I say is not going to change your opinion regarding the morality of abortion– that is not my intent– but whatever your beliefs, it is incredibly irresponsible to circulate such misleading and ill-informed information. If you believe your cause to be righteous, you shouldn’t need to warp the facts in order to convince others of its value.

  2. Hello Laura,
    The information presented in the article is accurate. Abortion IS legal throughout all 9 months of pregnancy, for any reason, up to the moment of birth in Canada. Since 1988 there have been no laws in Canada restricting abortion. If a doctor does begin a practice in Canada offering late term abortions, it would be entirely legal in our country. The law should reflect professional guidelines that are already in place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s