Canadian Abortion Rates

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Statistical Highlights

As of mid-1996, the latest statistics available are for 1994.

Total "therapeutic" abortions, 1994: 106,255

Canadian women obtained a record number of abortions in 1994. However, the year-over-year increase was the smallest since 1990.

All the growth in 1994 came from an 8.8% increase in the number of abortions performed in clinics. The number of abortions performed in hospitals and those performed on Canadian women in the United States both fell. The proportion of abortions performed in clinics has increased substantially over the past four years, while the number performed in hospitals has generally stabilized. The number of abortions obtained by Canadian women which were reported by the United States declined 26.7% to 338 in 1994, a record low. This was only about a fifth of the 1990 level of 1,573.

The ratio of hospital abortions to live births in 1994 increased in five provinces --- Newfoundland, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. It decreased in both territories and three provinces --- New Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia. It remained unchanged in Nova Scotia.

Over the past 20 years, the share of abortions increased for women in their 30s, women in common-law arrangements, women who had had at least one prior induced abortion, and women who had been pregnant less than 13 weeks.

The rate of complications immediately following abortions has dropped substantially since 1975, largely because of an increase in the proportion of early abortions, those in which the pregnancy was less than 13 weeks. [This is likely also do to improved medical technology. -Webmaster]

The overall annual numbers and rates of therapeutic abortions between 1990 and 1994 rose as a result of new abortion clinics being established in 8 of the 10 provinces, combined with an increase in abortions performed in these clinics. They opened following the January 1988 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada striking down the 1969 abortion law. Prior to the ruling, abortion clinics operated only in the province of Quebec.

In 1994, the number of therapeutic abortions performed in Canadian hospitals fell to 71,630, down 1.1% from the year before. However, the 1994 level was still higher than the number performed in hospitals in any single year since 1970, with the exception of 1993.

Some Raw Numbers

Annual Increase in Abortions

1991-92 2.3%
1992-93 7.4%
1993-94 1.8%

Abortions vs Live Births

1994 1993 1992
abortions per 100 live births 27.6 26.9 25.6
abortions in hospitals per 100 live births 18.6 18.7 17.7
U.S. rate (for comparison) n/a n/a 37.9

Abortion "Clinics"

1994 1990
abortions in clinics 34,287 20,236
abortions in hospitals 71,630 n/a
percentage of abortions done in clinics 32% 22%

Age of Mothers

(includes hospital abortions only)

age 1994 1984
under 20 20% 24%
20-29 56% 55%
30-39 25% 19%
over 40 2% 2%

The typical woman seeking a hospital abortion was 26 years old, had had one previous delivery and was less than 10 weeks pregnant at the time of the abortion.

The decrease for women under 20 and the increase for women aged 30 to 39 may be partly explained by the shift in population from younger to older age groups, delayed family formation, and the use of contraception.

Age of Baby

Fetal Age Percentage of
Clinic Abortions
Percentage of
Hospital Abortions
<9 weeks 40% 36%
13-20 weeks 17% 8%

Source: press release from Client Custom Services, Health Statistics Division (613-951-1746)
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Posted 16 Sep 2000.

Copyright 1996 by Ohio Right to Life
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