Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Government wrong when it says "large body of scholarly works on abortion policy"

Another argument that the government's lawyer, Dan Guttman made as to why I don't need access to abortion statistics through FOI requests, is that there is already data publicly available:
"There is a large body of scholarly works on abortion policy."

He identifies two public documents written by abortion doctor Wendy Norman along with some other doctors. 

Guttman also brings up CIHI as a source of data. We already know that CIHI's data is grossly under reported (not all clinics report and no doctor's offices report abortions at all). Now we learn that the two additional reports by Dr. Wendy Norman (Abortion Health Services in Canada and First-trimester medical abortion practices in Canada) also under report abortion data, one of them actually reports less abortions than CIHI does.

1) Abortion health services in Canada (Objective: To determine the location of Canadian abortion services relative to where reproductive-age women reside and the characteristics of abortion facilities and providers.)

This paper is based on a national survey of abortion providers. It reports that 75,650 abortions were done in 2012. CIHI reported 83,708 abortions in 2012:
"We report the first detailed data on abortion facilities and providers in Canada, including data on facilities providing 90.4% of the total number of Canadian abortions (83,708) reported to the Canadian Institute for Health Information for 2012".
The report makes no mention of the fact that the 83,708 CIHI number is also an incorrect under reported number, but the statement leads the reader to believe that CIHI's numbers are accurate when they are not. My calculations based on my 2010 FOI requests show that OHIP numbers were 53.28% higher that CIHI's numbers that year. And since every year since 2010 we have not had accurate data, I've had to estimate the numbers.

And now we know, my 53.28% number is probably even higher based on what we learned from the government during our court appearance.

2) First-trimester medical abortion practices in Canada (Objective: To understand the current availability and practice of first-trimester medical abortion (MA) in Canada):
"A strength of this study was the high response rate, allowing it to capture 90.4% of the terminations reported to CIHI in 2012.1 It also presents the first picture of MA in Canada and can provide a basis for further evaluations. However, we recognize that it might not be completely representative; physicians were recruited from publicly advertised sites providing surgical abortion services, which might have introduced a lower response rate from hospital-based services and from MA providers not associated with an advertised abortion facility. Another potential limitation is the low response rate observed in Ontario (56.3%), a high-population area; thus, the results of this survey might not be generalizable to every province, especially Ontario."
Another problem is that these reports are not published annually. And there is no guarantee that they would be published every year, and most probably won't be. Since these two Wendy Norman reports are for 2012 stats, but were only published in 2016 (four years later), it's pretty certain that these reports are probably a one off. Reports that are published occasionally or only once, are not a good argument for telling someone there is already abortion information out there. And two public one-off reports that are known to under report abortion data, does not qualify as a "large body of scholarly works", wouldn't you say?

1 comment:

  1. The gross inadequacies of the Ontario government to report abortion stats is a reflection of the how the Liberal government is selectively not transparent. This begs the question of what else does this government hide from its citizens. Great investigative work on this blog.