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Majority of Canadians 'satisfied' with the country's abortion policies: poll

Last Updated Feb 3, 2020 at 8:12 pm CST

Dr. Henry Morgentaler raises his arms in victory at a news conference in Toronto, Ont., Jan. 28, 1988. This January marks 30 years since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country's abortion law as unconstitutional.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Blaise Edwards
Summary

75 per cent of Canadians were "satisfied" with Canada's abortion policies


62 per cent of Canadians identify as pro-choice, 13 per cent of Canadians identify as pro-life


1,515 randomly selected Canadian adults were polled in Dec. 2019


A majority of the Canadian public are satisfied with the country’s abortion policies, a new poll says.

The DART & Maru/Blue Voice Canada poll released on Friday says 75 per cent of Canadians were “satisfied” with Canada’s abortion policies, with 25 per cent indicating they are not satisfied.

Like most countries, Canada’s abortion laws have evolved over time.

The first step toward the legalization of abortion was made in 1969 when the government amended the Criminal Code of Canada to allow doctors to perform abortions if a pregnancy threatened the health or life of a woman. Otherwise, abortion for other reasons was largely illegal until the 1980s when two separate Supreme Court decisions said those abortion laws were unconstitutional.

When it comes to the issue of abortion as a whole, Canadians largely find abortion acceptable, at 70 per cent.  Only 10 per cent of those surveyed find abortion unacceptable, with 11 per cent not caring either way. Ten per cent said they didn’t have an opinion at all.

When asked if the government should re-open the issue for discussion, Canadians largely said no thanks — with 71 per cent indicating that things should be left as they are. Only 10 per cent indicated the opposite.

Canadians split on whether politicians should talk about regulating abortion

However, Canadians were largely split on the question “as to whether or not they think politicians should at least be willing to talk about providing some regulatory framework when it comes to abortion,” the polling firm said.

“Fifty-one per cent of Canadians don’t think politicians should at least be willing to talk about providing some regulatory framework when it comes to abortion,” the poll said.

Forty-nine per cent of those polled on the question do think politicians should speak on the issue of providing some type of abortion regulations.

Despite the lack of a legal abortion framework, Canada does have some abortion guidelines in place.

The Canada Health Act mostly governs the access and funding for the procedure. Various provincial and territorial professional regulatory bodies also have rules in place, particularly around treatment options.

Here are some other highlights of the poll:

  • Seventy-one per cent believe that a woman should be able to get an abortion if she decides she wants one no matter what the reason

 

  • Two thirds (62 per cent) of Canadians identify as pro-choice, one in ten (13 per cent) of Canadians identify as pro-life and one quarter (25%) of Canadians indicate that they do not fit neatly into either category

 

  • Ninety-one per cent of Canadians believe that abortion should be legal when the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest

 

  • Eighty-four per cent oppose legalizing abortion if the family does not want the baby to be a certain sex

 

  • Seventy-six per cent of Canadians believe abortion should be legal when there is evidence that the baby may be mentally impaired

 

  • At 93 per cent, Canadians almost unanimously favour a law requiring doctors to inform patients about certain possible risks of abortion before performing the procedure

 

  • A vast majority (78 per cent) favour a law requiring doctors to inform patients about alternatives to abortion before performing the procedure

 

  • A majority (63 per cent) oppose a law allowing pharmacists and health providers to opt-out of providing medicine or surgical procedures that result in abortion

 

  • Canadians are split when it comes to abortion access for minors — 49 per cent believe there should be a law requiring women under 18 to get parental consent for an abortion

 

The complete text of the poll will be available online on Feb. 1.

The poll was conducted among 1,515 randomly selected Canadian adults between Dec. 5-8, 2019 and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

With files from The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Canadian Press