Ontario releases abortion stats to blogger

Statistics on abortion services in Ontario during the 2014/2015 fiscal year were released in an email from the Ontario Ministry of Health Ontario to pro-life blogger Patricia Maloney who operates Run with Life and was suing the government for the release of such information.

The statistics reveal that 45,573 abortions were committed in Ontario during the 2014/2015 fiscal year. Out of these abortions, 18,491 were done in a hospital and 27,082 of them were done in a free-standing abortion facility or doctor’s office. The combined cost of all these abortion services for the year was $5,690,931.99. All abortion services in Ontario are covered by OHIP, and are therefore taxpayer-funded.

The Ontario government has been allowed to deny Freedom of Information requests regarding abortion statistics since Bill 122 was passed in January 2012. In January 2017, Patricia Maloney, along with the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada, took the Ontario government to court, claiming that the abortion information exclusion infringed upon their freedom of expression. In court, the Ontario government’s lawyer, Dan Guttman, stated that though abortion statistics are excluded from Freedom of Information requests, one can still ask the government for abortion information and they will provide you with it. This prompted Maloney to email Minister of Health Eric Hoskins demanding abortion statistics. After five requests and over three months of waiting, Hoskins’ office finally replied to Maloney with the abortion statistics.

It is important to note that the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reported that in 2014, only 23,746 induced abortions were carried out in Ontario (10,977 were reported by hospitals, and 12,769 were reported in abortuaries and doctor’s offices). This means that almost half of abortions in Ontario during the year of 2014 went unreported by CIHI. Additionally, in Maloney’s and ARPA’s court case, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care stated that the number of abortion services billed in Ontario during the 2014-2015 fiscal year was 45,471. It is unclear why the number released by the Health Ministry for the number of abortion services billed is 102 more than the number stated in the court case. The number stated in the court case was not broken down in anyway by facility, nor was it broken by the method of the abortion (which is usually determined by how far the mother is through the pregnancy). This breakdown was what Maloney was specifically requesting when emailing the Ministry of Health.

Using the codes requested by Maloney, which correspond to the method of the abortion and/or gestation of the pregnancy, we know that during the 2014-2015 fiscal year, 37,635 abortions were done in Ontario before and during the fourteenth week of gestation (with most of them, 23,474, committed outside hospitals) and 2,025 abortions were done after the fourteenth week of gestation (most of them, 1,453, in hospitals).

Additionally, 84 “fetal reduction abortions” were done in Ontario hospitals. There are additional billing codes which also refer to other methods, and these make up the remainder of the abortion services. It should be noted that codes for hysterotomies were included. Hysterotomy abortions would fall under these codes, but this code can be claimed for services other than surgical abortions. However, these codes totaled only 18 procedures.

A month later, Maloney won her court case against the province over the censoring of abortion statistics.

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