In all but one of the opinion polls publicly available since 2010, a majority of Canadians support at least some law regulating abortion.
Are Canadians pro-choice?
If you look at the polls that ask whether abortion is permissible (i.e. whether you always support a woman’s choice) the numbers are much closer, with an average of 48% supporting a choice at any point, 46% only supporting sometimes, and 5% unsure.
How can we interpret these results?
With opinion polls it is always important to look at the methodology, what questions are being asked and who is being asked. For example, if you ask the average Canadian their opinions on abortion you must remember that (according to one poll) 77% of Canadians are unaware that Canada has no abortion law. Saying you support a woman’s right to choose may mean something very different if you are assuming a woman can’t legally have a third trimester abortion.
One poll that illustrates this well is the 2011 Abacus Data poll prepared for the Sun News Network. Canadians were asked, “When do you believe human life should be legally protected?” Only 22% supported the status quo of “from birth”. But, when asked to select a statement reflecting their views on abortion, 52% chose the most permissive option, supporting “the right of women to make choices about their own bodies.”
This illustrates the difference of being asked “Do you support women?” versus “Do you support the termination of a 24-week old fetus who is viable and can feel pain?” It may feel good to affirm the first question, but uncomfortable when faced with what this means to the pre-born in the second question. It also seems there is a lack of awareness of what “the right of women to make choices” actually entails in Canada.
Prominent pro-abortion activist Joyce Arthur acknowledges this disconnect, saying, “Virtually everyone supports “freedom” and “privacy,” so a large majority of people will agree that women should have both. But if specific questions are asked about exactly when fetal life should be protected, women’s so-called “complete freedom” to have abortions appears to take a sudden nosedive.” Abortion becomes far less palatable when you are faced with the reality of what it does to a pre-born human.
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If you really want to know your opinion on abortion, consider the following:
- Do you know that Canada is the only democratic country in the world with no law on abortion?
- Do you think it’s ok that abortions occur even when the pre-born child is old enough to feel pain, and might be viable outside the womb?
- Given questions 1 & 2, do you still think any choice should be legal for a pregnant woman to make?
If you’re not comfortable answering these questions in the affirmative, look at our International Standards Law as a solution. This proposed law would bring Canada in line with all other democratic countries in protecting pre-born children after 13 weeks gestation. It would also allow a waiting period for women seeking an abortion, along with independent counselling to ensure proper informed consent and to screen for coercion or abuse.
It’s time we acknowledge that abortion is not only about women, but also about pre-born human beings. It’s time for a law that protects them, while supporting the women who carry them.
Links to opinion polls referenced in tables:
2010 Ipsos Reid
2012 Forum Research
2012 Angus Reid
2013 Angus Reid
2017 Ipsos Reid
2018 Angus Reid