Latest Study Shows Only 20% of Canadian Hospitals Perform Abortions

Monday, July 26 2010

Latest Study Shows Only 20% of Canadian Hospitals Perform Abortions

In a report released on April 23, 2003, the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL) provided shocking evidence that therapeutic abortions are not accessible to a large number of Canadian Women. CARAL conducted this research by distributing written surveys of 295 general hospitals and 16 Planned Parenthood affiliates. In addition, CARAL representatives, posing as women searching for an abortion, called 612 general, non-Catholic hospitals.

Protecting Abortion Rights in Canada - A Special Report to Celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Decriminalization of Abortion is a timely follow-up to CARAL's 1998 report, entitled Granted, Too Often Denied.

The overall findings of the research centered on seven findings, which are accompanied by recommendations and strategies for change. They are:

1. Gatekeepers Can be "Gateclosers"

Findings
CARAL discovered that 15 hospitals across Canada referred the caller to a pro-choice agency, and 16 hung up on the caller. In New Brunswick, women must obtain the approval of two doctors, which is against the law.

CARAL Recommends that

2. Poorly Informed Staff

Findings
44 switchboard operators were unwilling to find any information for the caller, while 53 switchboard operators did look up information. But in some cases, administrative staff and CEOs did not know that their hospital provided abortion services.

CARAL Recommends that

3. Only 17.8% of Hospitals Provide Abortions

Findings
Canada has a shrinking pool of hospitals willing to provide abortion services. Fewer than one in five hospitals could or would provide an abortion.

CARAL Recommends that

4. Difficulties in Accessing Information

Findings
A shield has been placed on access to information on abortions. It is extremely difficult to obtain information on hospitals that provide abortion by using normal reporting agencies, such as Statistic Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Security concerns also make it impossible to identify the names and locations of doctors who provide abortions. The reality is this: the legal activity of over 100,000 women a year who have abortions is being restricted due to threats of extreme illegality by anti-abortion fanatics. As a result, an entire nation, where 78% of the citizens are pro-choice, is being held hostage by an agenda set by a small, vocal and fanatical minority of anti-abortionists.

CARAL Recommends that

5. Lack of Abortion Providers / Prejudice of Anti-Choice Doctors

Findings
It is clear that Canada has a shortage of trained professionals who can work as abortion providres. Performing abortions is not a requirement of many doctors joining a hospital staff, and medical schools are not turning out enough doctors with this skil. Many doctors and medical students fear harassment and violence to them and their families. As well, anti-choice doctors may refuse to refer patients.

CARAL Recommends that

6. A Reaffirmation of the 1998 Report "Access Granted, Too Often Denied"

Findings
CARAL's 1998 report painted a picture of decreased access to abortion services for a number of reasons - increased violence, retirement of abortion providers, lack of training in medical schools, hospital mergers, etc. These reasons for lack of access still exist. The present survey has documented and provided emperical evidence of the effect of these factors and, as such, takes the finding of the 1998 study to the level of evidence-based research.

CARAL Recommends that

7. A Basic Human Right Has Become Marginalized

Findings
Despite being legal and covered under the Canada Health Act, abortion has been marginalized in Canada because of persistent attempts by anti-choice groups to politicize the procedure. Women have become victims of the bureaucratic "do nothing" approach of medical associations and government when they are discriminated against by "gate-keepers" at hospitals who deny them medical services, anti-choice doctors who refuse to refer and politicans who place restrictions on access.

Abortion services need to be mainstreamed and the denial of abortion services must be understood as a deliberate attempt to block access to a reproductive right. This requires a shift of thinking on the part of governments and the medical profession. Abortion is not "elective surgery" - it is time-sensitive, and any means of forcing pregnancies to term against a person's will is a serere abuse of their right to life, liberty and security of person, as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We must be clear: this fact has been established in law by Canada's highest court. There is no longer any debate on the matter. The present tiered system is illegal. It establishes abortion not as a right, but as a saleable privilege. In effect, Health Canada must bring an end to the discriminatory practices occurring under the Canada Health Act.

It can do this by

The Protecting Abortion Rights in Canada report can be downloaded in PDF file from http://www.takshitek.com/caral/caralreporti.pdf.

You can also contact CARAL at 880 Wellington Street, Suite 616, Ottawa, ON K1R 6K7, Tel 1-888-642-2725, Fax (613) 789-9960. Website http://www.caral.ca/.
 

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