Polls Shows a Solid Majority of Canadians Want Legal Protection for Unborn Children

OTTAWA, Ontario, October 28, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new Environics poll shows that 72% of Canadians want legal protection for children in the womb, with 28% supporting protections from conception.

The national pro-life educational group LifeCanada, which commissioned the poll, says it is further evidence that Canadians oppose the status quo of state-funded abortion-on-demand and are calling on the government to act immediately.

“There is clearly a considerable gulf between government policies on abortion and Canadians’ opinions,” said LifeCanada President Monica Roddis. “Canadians strongly oppose abortion being legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy and they don’t want to pay for them except in exceptional circumstances.”

“Yet our governments refuse to deal with this issue,” she continued. “They won’t reopen the debate as they like to say. Is that because the more Canadians consider this issue, the more likely they are to disagree with the status quo?”

The poll suggests even stronger pro-life views in the country than an Abacus poll conducted in advance of the National March for Life in May, which showed 59% wanting some legal protections and 27% wanting them to begin at conception.

While the poll in May had only 8% supporting an outright ban on abortion, the Environics poll shows 26% wanting it banned even in the first trimester.

Participants in the Environics poll, conducted from September 13-25, were given details about fetal development such as the fact that the heart begins beating about three weeks after conception, brain waves can be detected within two months of conception and all organs are in place by two months.

Peter Ryan, executive director of New Brunswick Right to Life and a LifeCanada board member, said he thinks these details accounted for the high level of support for legal protections.

“The more such information we gave people, the more we could change public opinion,” he said.  “If we could get more information out there, the numbers would go right through the roof.”

When asked when human life should be protected, 28% said from conception, 17% said after two months and another 17% said after three months.  Only 20% supported the current policy in Canada of no protection for human life until birth.

An unborn child at 11 weeks

Significantly, women (74%) are more likely than men (67%) to support protection before birth. Eighty-one percent of women said abortion should generally be illegal in the third trimester.

On the funding of abortion, 54% said abortions should only be covered by provincial health plans in cases of emergency and 13% said they should never be covered.  Only 30% supported the government paying for all abortions.

The poll also asked about sex selection abortions targeting female babies, which has led to a disproportionately large male population among Indians, Chinese, and other ethnic groups.  An astonishing 92% of Canadians thought sex selection abortions should be illegal in Canada.

Just this month, the Ontario pro-life educational group Alliance for Life launched a four-month campaign called We Want the Debate, with the goal of overcoming the censorship of debate on abortion among the vast majority of Canada’s political class.

Roddis says LifeCanada hopes the poll will “add to a healthy and productive debate across this country.”

The poll was part of Environics’ National Omnibus poll, and queried 2,000 Canadians from across the country.  The margin of error is 2.2%, 19 times out of 20.

LifeCanada directed those interested in the full poll to contact them at 1-866-780-5433.


OTTAWA, March 16, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new national poll indicates that a large majority of Canadians are increasingly embracing conservative values, including opposing abortion and supporting the true definition of marriage.

The Harris-Decima poll was commissioned for the Manning Centre Barometer, an annual survey of Canadian’s attitudes towards values and policies generally ascribed to conservatives, by the Manning Centre for Building Democracy.

The poll was carried out by Allan Gregg of Harris-Decima and Dr. Andre Turcotte of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication, who conducted phone interviews with 1,000 Canadian adults between February 1-10.

The poll found that a majority of Canadians strongly agreed with traditionally conservative value statements on the supremacy of family, the definition of marriage, and the immorality of abortion.

Eighty-nine per cent of respondents strongly agreed that “nothing is more important than family,” and 67 per cent strongly agreed that “marriage, by definition, is between a man and a woman.”  Additionally, 60% strongly agreed that “abortion is morally wrong.”  Overall, 75% believe abortion is morally wrong and 80% support true marriage.

“According to the poll results,” a press release from the Manning Centre states, “the majority of Canadians identify with the ‘centre’ position on the political ideology scale, but the Canadian centre is increasingly embracing traditionally conservative values.”

“What is most surprising about these results is how mainstream conservative the political centre has become,” said Professor Turcotte.

Mary-Ellen Douglas, the national coordinator for the pro-life organization Campaigns Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews.com that the poll results are “wonderful.”

“It’s what we’ve always known. People do not want abortion in Canada, and we support that.”

When asked why she thought that so many agreed with the statement that abortion is morally wrong, Douglas responded, “Can we hope that there’s been so much killing that people are getting sick of it?”

Either way, she said, “it’s the answer to our prayers.” “Now it’s time to turn this country around and start caring for our unborn children.”

Professor Turcotte also noted in his analysis that increasingly conservative values are leading Canadians to vote for Conservative governments, another shift from the recent past. “Five elections ago, which only goes back to 1997, a majority of centrist Canadians supported Liberals. Now the majority vote Conservative. This survey suggests that the Conservatives currently own the political centre,” said Turcotte.

He emphasized this “surprising shift” from five elections ago, when 41 per cent of self-described centrists voted Liberal. In 2008, 47 per cent of centrists voted Conservative.

Another shift is anticipated when younger Canadians who want “even less of government” grow older, said Turcotte, adding that while a majority of Canadians don’t want an absolute minimalist approach to government, they appear to be losing confidence in its ability to manage the economy, showing more confidence in individual initiative and the private sector.

“They are not overwhelmingly Conservative but it is shifting in that direction — that the private sector should be given a crack at solving issues and problems before we turn to the government,” said Turcotte.

The poll also looked at how specific Conservative government policies are perceived by Canadians in general. A majority of Canadians supported Prime Minister Harper’s government policies in areas such as spending deficits, abolishing the long gun registry, action on climate change, decision to leave Afghanistan in 2011, and management of the economic recession.

The pollsters concluded that the Conservatives “currently own the political centre,” and in reality, few Canadians identify outright as on the left.

“The left is a very lonely place to be right now in Canada,” said Turcotte.


January 18, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion, published on Jan. 15, has found that a significant number of Canadians would like to see more restrictions on the availability of abortions, and that respondents were almost evenly split on whether Canada’s health care system should maintain its policy of covering the cost of abortions in all cases for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

The survey of 1,002 Canadian adults sought to review the opinion of respondents on a wide range of topics related to abortion, but found a significant ignorance of the current status-quo of abortion in Canada.

The report states that of those responding to the survey, only one-in-five (20%) were aware that in Canada a woman can have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy, with no restrictions whatsoever.

A large proportion of respondents (43%) mistakenly believe that, under current guidelines, a woman can have an abortion only during the first three months of her pregnancy, with no other restrictions.

Two other incorrect responses were significant.

Ten per cent of respondents thought a woman can have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy, but only if her life is in danger, if she has been the victim of rape, or if the unborn child has serious defects,

14 per cent believed a woman can only have an abortion during the first three months of her pregnancy, and only if her life is in danger, if she has been the victim or rape, or if the child has serious defects.

The report says that once respondents were informed about existing regulations on abortion, while three-in-ten Canadians (30%) endorsed the status-quo, one-in-four respondents (24%) said they would prefer restrictions on abortion during the last six months of pregnancy to include danger to the mother’s life and in cases of rape or fetal defects.

Furthermore, 15% of respondents said they thought abortions should be allowed only during the first three months of pregnancy with no other restrictions, 13% opted for allowing abortion during the first three months of pregnancy, but only if the mother’s life is in danger, if she have been the victim of rape, or if the child has serious defects, and 6% said a women should be able to have an abortion at any time during their pregnancy, but only in cases of danger to life, rape or serious defect.

Five per cent of Canadians said women should be forbidden from having an abortion under any circumstances.

With regard to government funding of abortion, respondents were split on whether Canada’s health care system should maintain its policy of covering the cost. While 43 per cent would maintain this policy, 41 per cent say the system should only pay for abortions in the event of a medical emergency.

Another aspect of abortion addressed by the poll was the availability of information about alternatives to abortion.

Three-in-ten Canadians (31%) said women in this country lack enough access to information about alternatives such as adoption, and that counseling for pregnant women was inadequate. A large majority (79%) would back an initiative in their own province that would make it mandatory for health care workers to offer information to pregnant women about alternatives to abortion.

Despite the high support registered in the poll for legislating restrictions to abortion in Canada, only 28% of respondents believed there was any point in re-opening debate on Canada’s legal stance on abortion.

The full text of the Angus Reid opinion poll report is available here.


November 26, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – For the ninth year in a row, a majority of Canadians have rejected the status quo on abortion in this country, according to a new poll. Over half of respondents to the poll said there should be legal protection for human life before birth and over two-thirds say abortions should only be paid for by taxpayers in medical emergencies or in cases of rape or incest.

A poll by Environics Research of 2002 Canadians found that only one-third of Canadians agree with the current policy that denies any protection to unborn babies before birth. The majority, 56%, support legal protection at some stage before birth: 30% support legal protection from conception on, 17% after three months of pregnancy and 8% after six months of pregnancy.  Once again, support for legal protection from conception on is much higher among women, 35%, than men at 25%.

The disconnect between official policy and the opinions of Canadians is even more stark in the area of abortion funding. Most abortions in Canada, which now total well over 100,000 annually, are paid for by taxpayers through the publicly funded health care system. Yet when asked, 68% of Canadians polled said that abortions should be either privately funded (18%) or only tax-funded in cases of medical emergency “such as a threat to the mother’s life or in cases of rape or incest.”  Only 26% support tax-funding of all abortions, down from 30% last year.

“With all the financial pressures on our health care system right across this country, it is ludicrous that our governments continue to pay tens of  millions of dollars for a procedure which is seldom done for medical reasons,” said pediatrician, Dr. Delores Doherty, president of LifeCanada, which commissioned the poll. “This is especially true when a majority of Canadians think unborn babies should be protected, not destroyed.”

The poll was conducted in October 2009 on 2002 Canadians.  The margin of error is 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


November 21, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new Environics poll shows a majority of Canadians want legal protection for the unborn child at some point before birth. This is consistent with survey results over the past seven years.

Canada remains the only country in the developed word with no legal limits on abortion throughout all 9 months of pregnancy. Yet, almost 6 in 10 respondents support legal protection for unborn children at some point before birth.  Only 33% support the current situation of protection only after birth. Once again, women polled showed far more support for protection from conception on than men did: 33% versus 24%.

A majority of Canadians support informed consent requirements before an abortion that would be consistent with the informed consent expected and provided before any surgical procedure. Almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents agree that women considering abortion should be informed of the risks and possible consequences of the abortion procedure.

“The hopelessly inadequate information most women receive before an abortion is appalling,” said Dr. Delores Doherty, president of LifeCanada, the group that commissioned the poll. “Many women who have had abortions feel betrayed by the doctors involved in their abortions and some are considering class action suits.”

The poll also asked how Canadians feel about tax dollars funding a procedure that is predominately performed for social reasons, rather than medical necessity. Only 3 in 10 support the current situation of tax funding for most of the roughly 100,000 abortions performed annually. Half prefer public funding only in cases of medical emergencies and two in 10 think payment should be a private responsibility.

“Despite years of polls consistently showing Canadians want changes in our abortion policy, elected officials in every party continue to ignore the issues or worse, shut down discussion and debate,” said Dr. Doherty.  “This is a sad state for a democratic nation. It is past time for our political leaders to acknowledge and take action in line with the expressed will of their constituents. The issue is not going to go away!”

The Focus Canada poll of 2023 Canadians was conducted between September 24 and October 21, 2008. It is considered accurate 19 out of 20 times, with a margin of error of +/-2.2%.  LifeCanada, the national educational pro-life body, has commissioned an annual poll on life issues since 2002.

The polls have consistently showed that Canadians do not approve of the status quo on abortion on demand in this country.  They have consistently showed through the years that two-thirds of Canadians want some restrictions on abortion. But still, the government won’t touch this issue with a 10-foot pole.  And year after year, our country dies a little more.

Environics Poll – October, 2005 

Environics Poll – October, 2006

Environics Poll – October, 2007

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