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Religious Tolerance logo


Two Canadian, and one British,
public opinion polls on abortion

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Sponsored link.

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1998 British Poll:

The Harris Research Centre conducted a public opinion poll involving 1,762 people aged 16 and above from 1998-MAR-27 to 31. The question asked was: "Should a pregnant woman be able to decide for herself whether to have an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy?" 1 Overall results were:

bullet77% yes (ranging from a high of 84% in the North East of England to a low of 70% in Scotland)
bullet12% no
bullet11% undecided

More women then men supported the pro-choice stance (81% to 72%)

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2002 Canadian poll:

Environics Research Group conducted this poll for the National Post and Global TV network.

There is a very high level of support for freedom of choice for women in Canada. It has been rising steadily since the mid-1980s when only about half of Canadian adults supported legal and widely available abortions. By the year 2000, an Environics poll had indicated that support had risen to 66%. A Compas Inc. poll conducted from 2002-NOV-16 to 19, shows that 78% of adults are in favor of abortion access. This value varied from a high of 82% in Quebec to a low of 68% in the Maritime provinces on Canada's East coast. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.

Natalie Hudson, spokesperson for the Right to Life Association of Toronto said that the data is "very disappointing...It means we've got to get out there more."

Mary Ellen Douglas, spokesperson for the Campaign Life Coalition criticized the survey methodology. It asked a number of other questions related to freedom of choice. She said: "Freedom for women is a flag, whether your asking what color they should be able to dye their hair or what doctor they should be able to go to. Women will respond to that no matter what the question is, as yes. The reality is if you asked the question 'Should women have complete freedom on whether to kill their two-year-old?' then you introduce something else...it's the same question; it's her baby at a different age." 2

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2006 Canadian poll:

Environics Research Group conducted this poll for LifeCanada, a pro-life/anti-abortion group.

This poll is extremely useful for two main reasons:

bulletThe pollsters asked questions that are often ignored by most polls.
bulletThey have asked the same questions yearly since 2002. Thus trends can be observed.

They attempted to determine when Canadians believe that human life becomes a human person We feel that this is the key question to be raised in polls on abortion access. However, it is rarely included. The question asked was:

"In your opinion, at what point in human development should the law protect human life?"

Time protection should start 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
At conception 37% 31% 33% 30% 31%
Sometime during pregnancy 19 32 35 30 33
At birth 30 28 28 33 30
Don't know/Didn't answer 14 9 4 7 6

This is a politician's nightmare. Canadian adults are split into three almost equally sized camps, and the percentage of people who don't know is decreasing.

There has been a notable shift over time from preferring protection from conception on (a drop from 37& to 31%) , to preferring protection starting later in pregnancy (an increase from 19% to 33%).

For those who believe that protection of human life should begin during pregnancy, two choices were offered: at the start of the second and third trimesters. Subjects specified the former about twice as often as the latter:

Time protection should start 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Beginning of second trimester 13% 21% 24% 19% 23%
Beginning of third trimester 6 11 11 11 10

N = 2,012. margin of error = 2.2 percentage points. Poll taken 2006-SEP-19 to 2006-OCT-12.

Environics also asked whether the subjects favored "informed consent" laws in which the physician is required to provide information to the pregnant woman about the stages of fetal development, an assessment of abortion complications, alternatives to abortion, etc. Canadians generally favored such laws. There has been no significant trend over times:

Consent laws 2003 2004 2005 2006
Supportive 69% 73% 70% 71%
Opposed 27 25 27 26

Finally, they asked whether pregnant women under the age of 18 should be required to have the consent of their parents before obtaining an abortion. Results indicate another politician's nightmare:

Parental Consent law 2004 2005 2006
Supportive 55% 56% 55%
Opposed 42% 41% 42%

Opinion appears to be unusually stable over time.

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A related menu on this website:

bulletPolls in the U.S.

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  1. Data from the British poll is at: http://www.gn.apc.org/
  2. "78% favour abortion rights: Poll shows support touching its all-time high," National Post, Toronto, ON, Canada, 2002-NOV-27, Page A1 and A8.
  3. "Canadians' attitudes towards abortion issues," Environics Research Group, 2006-OCT, at: http://www.lifesite.net/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics > Abortion > Facts > here

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Copyright 1998 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2006-NOV-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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