Letter: Abortion letter’s statistics are impossible math

If you are going to use data to back an argument, make sure it’s demonstrably accurate

To the Expositor:

In response to the letter ‘A rebuttal of letter writer’s anti pro-life stance’ (July 24, Page 4) I would like to offer a correction to the statistics quoted. The letter writer stated that “[t]here are over 100,000 abortions in Canada each year” and that “[n]early 25 percent of all pregnancies end in elective abortions.”

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (affiliated with Stats Canada) there were 94,030 abortions in Canada in 2017 (the most recent data available as of January this year). 

The writer’s statistic of 25 percent of pregnancies ending in elective abortion may be a simple misunderstanding of the data. I’m no mathematician, but bear with me: 

There were 383,187 births in 2017. If one uses the number of births in calculating the percentage of abortions (94,030 abortions divided by 383,187 births) the answer is 25 percent. However, pregnancies and births are not the same thing, therefore that 25 percent statistic isn’t just meaningless, it’s impossible math that compares apples to oranges. 

I was not able to get my hands on the number of pregnancies in Canada, but according to the data available, in 2017 less than 1.5 percent of women between 15 and 44 had an abortion, elective or otherwise (as per CIHI, the abortion rate was 13.1 per 1,000 women of childbearing age). These statistics do not differentiate between elective and other terminations, meaning they include all terminations for all reasons. 

Regardless of where you stand on an issue, if you are going to use factual data to back up your point of view, be sure it’s demonstrably accurate or you risk undermining your entire argument and losing credibility. 


Jill Ferguson