By Jonathon Van Maren
Each year, my colleagues at the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform speak to thousands of young people about abortion across Canada on campuses, at high schools, and on the streets. As I write this, dozens of young interns in both East and West are engaging the public.
Time and again, we find that young people are far more open to becoming pro-life than older people. Both internal polling as well as anecdotal experience indicates that the generations who grew up with “pro-choice” as their default setting are open to being presented with facts that prove they’ve been lied to.
A recent Ipsos poll by Global News published recently confirms the experience of many pro-life activists. According to the poll, 56% of Canadians support abortion access “whenever it’s wanted.” According to Sanyam Sethi, vice-president of public affairs, this is an increase since 2010. However, this does not hold for Canadians between the ages of 18 to 35, who “showed the least support in comparison with older generations,” which Sethi called “a very rare issue.” According to Ipsos:
Compared with the 63 per cent of Canadians 55 and over who believe people should be permitted to have an abortion whenever wanted, only 50 per cent of those 18 to 34 believe the same. A total of 15 per cent of respondents 18 to 34 also believe abortion shouldn’t be permitted unless the mother’s life is in danger. These findings aren’t only limited to Canada either, according to Sethi, who noted the trend is also upheld globally.
The other numbers presented by Ipsos are interesting but lack context. For example, Ipsos says that 61% of Canadians say that things should be left the way they are—but pro-lifers have found going door to door (and polling confirms this) that over 80% of Canadians have no idea what the status quo is. This is why the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada worked so hard to remove cross-Canada billboards which simply said “Canada has no abortion laws” — because the vast majority of Canadians don’t know that. Pollsters are polling people’s support on a status quo they are unaware of.
Ipsos found that in Atlantic Canada only 42% think abortion should be available on demand for any reason (as it is), with support rising to 63% in Alberta, 61% in BC, and 54% in Ontario (again, a majority of those polled would have been unaware that abortion is legal until birth.) Twenty-five percent told Ipsos they want the abortion debate reopened.