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Thursday, 5 September 2013

Abortion access decreasing in parts of Canada - is there evidence of an impeding public health crisis?

Dr. Wendy Norman is taking on the country on an issue that many politicians and health care providers might prefer not receive any attention.  Its this lack of attention that is leading to a gradual and consistent reduction in access to pregnancy termination.

Abortion  providers are a threatened species, not just in feeling threatened in their lives, but fewer are taking up the curettes in support of women who are making a choice.  

The legal environment in Canada has been very stable for decades on the issue.  Consistently private members bills have failed in attempting to redefine life, restrict access, require counselling, or a host of other impediments and barriers that could be imposed on a woman who is making an informed and often difficult choice.  Even the most conservative striped leaders have learned quickly to avoid bringing the issue to the political forefront, a sign that such actions are not in the best political interests of the party.

South of the border, the predominant libertarian groups are the very ones imposing their personal values on others – inconsistent with their core ethic.  Amazingly in Canada, where social values are considered important in decision processes, respecting the decision of an individual have become appropriately entrenched.

So why have providers become scarce.  In a society which values diversity and respects personal freedom, it seems that on the issue of abortion we are less tolerant.  Peace abiding individuals, often with clearly defined moral standards engage in intimidation of both women seeking abortion and providers.  In many communities, the names of abortion providers are guarded secrets, and not uncommonly providers move between communities to provide pregnancy termination.   Homes have been vandalized, property defaced, and physical attacks. 

To be fair, most persons expressing their views in opposition of abortion do so in respectful and peaceful fashion – it is the few with extreme views that have engendered fear amongst providers.

Which leads to findings that Dr. Norman shares on how access is decreasing VICE blog posting   PLOS on line  and perhaps those opposing ‘freedom of choice’ for pregnancy women are being successful in reducing access.   Kudos to her for applying rigorous research methodologies to study a topic that many would shy away even though it is legal, permitted, and entrenched in our culture.

Thank you Wendy.

An important subnote to this is that abortion rates have been declining in Canada since the mid-1990s National Post November 2011 .  While fertility rates hit their lowest point in 2000 at 1.49 and have inched upward to 1.63 in 2011.  While birth control usage is not tracked, repeat surveys in high schools have tended to demonstrate both higher rates of contraceptive use in recent  sexual intercourse and older ages of initiation of sexual intercourse – both of which would contribute to overall reductions in pregnancy rates.  There has been some evidence in the last couple of years that these trends may be reversing and evidence of higher teen pregnancy rates has been reported Globe and mail January 2013

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