By Patricia Maloney, Editor, Run with Life Blogspot.
In 2010 the Ontario government made a change to Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). What they did was exclude everything and anything related to abortion from freedom of information requests (FOI). This means that anything the government does concerning abortion (i.e., cost, numbers, policies, etc.) are all hidden from public scrutiny.
We are told we can instead access abortion statistics produced by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). The problem with this data is that it grossly under-reports abortion statistics. This is because the data does not capture all clinic data, and even worse, it captures none of the abortions done in doctor’s offices. It also doesn’t publish abortion cost, or information on government abortion policy etc.
It’s called censorship. And it’s only censoring one, publicly funded medical service, that also happens to be the most controversial, political issue of our time.
So we took the Ontario government to court. We argued that by hiding this abortion information, my Freedom of Expression rights, guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, were being trampled on. As a pro-life blogger, how could I meaningful comment on abortion in Ontario, if I didn’t have accurate information on abortion and abortion cost? I couldn’t.
So on Feb 1st, we finally had our day in court.
One thing we did learn in court, was the actual number of abortions done in Ontario in 2014/2015. A number that we didn’t previously know. This number was released by the Ontario government via their factum in court. There were 45,471 abortions done in Ontario in 2014/2015.
One of the government’s arguments was that I can already have meaningful debate on abortion without accurate abortion numbers. Which is silly since CIHI grossly under- reports abortions.
This is the second time the Ontario Government has given me abortion data in the past five years. And both times it was litigation that made them release it. Yet they tell us that I can ask for abortion information outside of FIPPA, and I will get it. (I will be testing this theory out very soon on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Health Minister Eric Hoskins. I guarantee it.)
Let me repeat that number. The number of abortions done in Ontario in one year is 45,471 abortions. CIHI reported 23,746 abortions in Ontario for 2014.
That’s almost twice as many abortions performed in Ontario than is officially reported. No wonder the Ontario government doesn’t like me going after abortion statistics. It also goes to shows how important open, transparent and accountable government is. We are paying for these abortions so it’s our right to know how many there are and what we are paying for them.
Mind you that is a total number with no breakdown at all. When I was doing my Freedom of information requests to obtain abortion numbers, I was also learning all kinds of statistics that this number doesn’t tell me, like:
- How many abortions are being done in hospitals.
- How many abortions are being done in clinics.
- How many abortions are being done in doctor’s offices.
- How many abortions were done before 14 weeks gestation.
- How many abortions are being done after 14 weeks gestation.
- How many abortions are fetal reduction abortions.
And if I had been allowed to continue to do my FOIs I’m pretty sure I would have been able to find out a whole lot more information on abortion in Ontario.
Meaningful debate can only happen with meaningful information.
The judge will rule on our case later. We are guardedly hopeful of an acceptable judgment.
The judge will rule on our case later. We are hopeful.