Friday, November 05, 2004

Atlantic Canadians Want Legal Protection for the Unborn

PUBLICATION: The New Brunswick Telegraph Journal
DATE: 2004.11.05
COLUMN: Atlantic Canada
BYLINE: TRACY CARR Telegraph-Journal

Most Atlantic Canadians want legal protection for fetuses: poll; Right
to Life group says results suggest desire for new policies relating to

A new poll suggests most Atlantic Canadians would like to see more legal
protection for the unborn.

The Environics poll, conducted for the right-to-life education group
LifeCanada, showed 72 per cent of those who participated in the survey
want to see some form of legal protection for fetuses.

Under existing law, a fetus has no legal rights because the law doesn't
consider it a person until birth.

The percentage of Atlantic Canadian who would like fetuses to be
protected by law's rate was slightly higher than the figure nationwide.

Of the 2,027 people polled across Canada, 68 per cent said the law
should protect human life before birth.

While a third of those polled nationwide said legal protection should
begin at conception, 44 per cent of respondents in the Atlantic
provinces said the law should protect human life from conception on.

Peter Ryan, the executive director of New Brunswick Right to Life, said
these results suggest Atlantic Canadians want changes in policy relating
to pregnancy.

"It shows people are in support of new policies," he said. "And if
policies went according to polls, there would be new policies in place."

The poll results also showed that 79 per cent of Atlantic Canadians who
participated in the survey would restrict public funding of abortion.
Twenty-two per cent said taxpayers shouldn't pay for abortions at all,
while 57 per cent said governments should foot the bill "only in
emergencies such as a threat to the mother's life or in case of rape or

Twenty-six per cent of Atlantic Canadians polled said all abortions
should be covered under the tax-funded health-care system. This was on
par with the national rate.

While each province sets its own funding policy, all four Atlantic
provinces pay for abortions for a broad spectrum of reasons.

New Brunswick pays for abortions in hospitals but not private clinics.
Nova Scotia and Newfoundland pay for all abortions, including those at
private clinics.

On the question of informed consent, 72 per cent of Atlantic Canadian
respondents would support a law requiring that a physician must give a
woman seeking an abortion certain information such as fetal development,
possible complications, and alternatives to abortion. No Maritime
province has such legislation. Nationwide, 73 per cent of those polled
favoured such a law.

Fifty-nine per cent of Atlantic residents think those under 18 should
have to obtain parental consent for an abortion. The national average
was 55 per cent in favour of obtaining parental permission. Mr. Ryan
said he hopes those in the position to make changes to laws relating to
abortion will take these numbers into consideration, and change policy
to better reflect them.

"I would love to see the politicians take note and take action," he

The Morgentaler Clinic in Toronto declined comment about the poll and
its results.

The national poll results are considered accurate plus or minus 2.2
percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error for regional
samples is greater than that for the national sample.