National data suggests clinics and hospitals performing fewer abortions

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TORONTO — New data suggests the number of abortions performed in Canada’s hospitals and clinics declined significantly in 2018.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information says clinics and hospitals reported 85,195 induced abortions that year — down 8,835 from the 94,030 procedures reported in 2017.

The findings continued a downward trend seen in previous years, but was more than twice the difference seen between 2016 and 2017 when the number fell by 3,734.

In 2016, the 97,764 reported abortions was 2,340 fewer than 2015, when clinics and hospitals reported 100,104 procedures.

Researchers did not suggest any reasons for the most recent drop, but said the numbers did not include abortions induced by the pill Mifegymiso, which hit the Canadian market in 2017.

Any family doctor can prescribe Mifegymiso, which can be taken at home.

CIHI researchers add that the data has several limitations making it difficult to draw conclusions or compare regions.

For one thing, the clinical data — which amounts to more than half the numbers — does not include information from New Brunswick. Unlike hospitals, clinics are not obligated to report all procedures and only do so voluntarily.

In 2018, clinics reported 58,697 induced abortions, or 69 per cent of the total reported that year. That was a similar ratio to numbers seen in previous years.

There were also inconsistencies in the way data was reported.

For instance, data from Manitoba and Ontario clinics only include abortions covered by provincial health insurance.

And patients who are covered by Quebec’s insurance plan but receive care in Alberta are reported by Alberta.

Meanwhile, patients who are covered by Alberta’s insurance plan but receive care in Quebec are not reported by either province.

 

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press