OTTAWA, ON November 1, 2011(CCRL) – The annual poll by Life Canada has found that most Canadians want some legal protection for the unborn, and in general do not support public funding of most abortions.

In results released yesterday, seventy-two percent of Canadians surveyed in a September National Omnibus poll support legal protection for the unborn. Most (62 per cent) want protection from conception, or two or three months’ gestation on. Another ten per cent favor protection from six months on. Currently in Canada there are no legal restrictions on abortion at any stage of pregnancy.

“Clearly Canadian attitudes toward abortion lean more to the side of life than our current lack of any law about it would suggest,” says Joanne McGarry, executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League. “That is why we support educational and advocacy efforts to encourage public discussion and new legislation in support of protection for the unborn.”

In the polling, those surveyed were told that the fetal heart begins beating about three weeks after conception, brain waves can be detected within two months of conception and all organs are in place by two months. When asked when human life should be protected, 28 per cent said from conception, 17 per cent said after two months and another 17 per cent said after three months. Only 20 per cent supported the current policy in Canada of no protection for human life until birth.

The poll also found that women (74 per cent) are more likely than men (67 per cent) to support protection before birth. Eighty-one per cent of women said abortion should generally be illegal in the third trimester.

The poll also asked about sex selection abortions that target females. In several countries, including India and China, there are reliable reports that girls are selectively aborted leading to skewed demographics in which adult males far outnumber females. Ninety-two per cent of Canadians thought sex selection abortions should be illegal in Canada.

Finally Canadians polled said they did not support tax-funded abortions except in emergency situations when the mother’s life was threatened or in cases of rape and incest. Taxpayers currently pay for almost all the approximately 100,000 abortions performed each year in Canada. Yet only 30 per cent of those polled support paying for all abortions. Thirteen per cent said abortions should always be paid for by the patient and an addition 54 per cent said abortions should only be tax-funded in emergency situations.

“There is clearly a considerable gulf between government policies on abortion and Canadians’ opinions,” said LifeCanada President Monica Roddis. “Canadians strongly oppose abortion being legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy and they don’t want to pay for them except in exceptional circumstances.”

“Yet our governments refuse to deal with this issue,” she said. “They won’t reopen the debate as they like to say. Is that because the more Canadians consider this issue, the more likely they are to disagree with the status quo?”

“We will continue to educate Canadians on this issue and we hope that the polls add to a healthy and productive debate across this country,” said Ms. Roddis.  

The telephone poll, conducted by Environics Research for LifeCanada, an educational pro-life group, asked 2000 Canadians for their opinions on abortion. The margin of error is +/- 2.2%.

– With a press release from Life Canada, November 1, 2011