Canadian doctors performed 87,485 abortions in 2021, with just under 21,000 procedures for women under 25.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), new data released last week unveiled the number of abortions performed in hospitals and clinics. Surgical abortions constituted 63% of procedures, while medical abortions using oral treatments such as Mifegymiso accounted for 37% of abortions in Canada.
CIHI acknowledged in the report that underreporting of total abortions performed remains an ongoing concern, as documented in previous years.
Based on billings accessed by pro-life researcher Patricia Maloney, she learned of 45,471 abortions done in 2014, while the CIHI reported only 23,746. CIHI has since corrected these numbers.
The Institute also updated the number of abortions performed in 2020 — going from 74,155 to 91,551 procedures that year. However, it did not include the gestation period of the aborted fetuses in the latest report.
However, it did include the age groups which induced the most abortions. In 2021, women aged 18-24 (20,825) and over 35 (20,208) accessed the procedure the most.
Based on region, Ontario performed the most abortions (34,988) nationwide.
Maloney found that CIHI underreported 18,278 abortions performed in Ontario in 2019. Through the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), she accessed doctors' billing codes to procure abortion totals.
"Not all provinces use the same [statistical] methodology," said Maloney, "so there isn't necessarily consistency between them."
Additionally, CIHI observed discrepancies in Quebec's abortion data from its billing system data. Documents show that from 2015 to 2017, the province performed 20% more abortions than the Institute reported. They excluded medical abortions and procedures performed outside the region.
While the Institute implemented changes to enhance data accuracy, past reports glaringly omitted physician billing data. The CIHI included bills from several provinces in this report. However, data from Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick and the Territories must still be included.
Despite the logistical improvements, Scott Hayward, Co-founder of the Pro-Life group "RightNow," said more work remains to procure more accurate data.
"Unfortunately, CIHI is not able to capture the data for all induced abortions in Canada as not all provinces require the reporting of induced abortions outside of hospitals," Hayward told True North. "Nor does it include data for those abortions induced by the administration of Mifegymiso (RU-486) outside the hospital setting."
He concluded the Institute must gather additional data on the "pervasiveness of abortion," such as induced abortions in all hospitals and private clinics and induced abortions through the administration of Mifegymiso to bolster overall accuracy.
However, the CIHI data showed a steady decline in abortions, with an estimated 4,253 prescriptions for Mifegymiso given to women in 2017, the first year such information became public.
Despite the improved methodology, precise statistics on abortion remain a challenge because no federal ministry or board keeps track of them. Private clinics such as Planned Parenthood are not legally obligated to report the number of abortions by the CIHI.