A poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion, published on Jan. 15, has found that a significant number of Canadians would like to see more restrictions on the availability of abortions, and that respondents were almost evenly split on whether Canada’s health care system should maintain its policy of covering the cost of abortions in all cases for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
The survey of 1,002 Canadian adults sought to review the opinion of respondents on a wide range of topics related to abortion, but found a significant ignorance of the current status-quo of abortion in Canada.
The report states that of those responding to the survey, only one-in-five (20%) were aware that in Canada a woman can have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy, with no restrictions whatsoever.
A large proportion of respondents (43%) mistakenly believe that, under current guidelines, a woman can have an abortion only during the first three months of her pregnancy, with no other restrictions.
Two other incorrect responses were significant.
Ten per cent of respondents thought a woman can have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy, but only if her life is in danger, if she has been the victim of rape, or if the unborn child has serious defects,
14 per cent believed a woman can only have an abortion during the first three months of her pregnancy, and only if her life is in danger, if she has been the victim or rape, or if the child has serious defects.
The report says that once respondents were informed about existing regulations on abortion, while three-in-ten Canadians (30%) endorsed the status-quo, one-in-four respondents (24%) said they would prefer restrictions on abortion during the last six months of pregnancy to include danger to the mother’s life and in cases of rape or fetal defects.
Furthermore, 15% of respondents said they thought abortions should be allowed only during the first three months of pregnancy with no other restrictions, 13% opted for allowing abortion during the first three months of pregnancy, but only if the mother’s life is in danger, if she have been the victim of rape, or if the child has serious defects, and 6% said a women should be able to have an abortion at any time during their pregnancy, but only in cases of danger to life, rape or serious defect.
Five per cent of Canadians said women should be forbidden from having an abortion under any circumstances.
With regard to government funding of abortion, respondents were split on whether Canada’s health care system should maintain its policy of covering the cost. While 43 per cent would maintain this policy, 41 per cent say the system should only pay for abortions in the event of a medical emergency.
Another aspect of abortion addressed by the poll was the availability of information about alternatives to abortion.
Three-in-ten Canadians (31%) said women in this country lack enough access to information about alternatives such as adoption, and that counseling for pregnant women was inadequate. A large majority (79%) would back an initiative in their own province that would make it mandatory for health care workers to offer information to pregnant women about alternatives to abortion.
Despite the high support registered in the poll for legislating restrictions to abortion in Canada, only 28% of respondents believed there was any point in re-opening debate on Canada’s legal stance on abortion.
The full text of the Angus Reid opinion poll report is available here.