Megapundit Extra: How many abortions is too many?

In Thursday’s Globe and Mail (as noted in Thursday’s Megapundit), Margaret Wente argued that the “nearly 30 per cent of pregnancies in Canada [that] end in abortion” is an uncomfortably high figure, and ought to be lower

Well, here’s some good news: it is.

Statistics Canada says there were 96,815 abortions performed in Canada in 2005, as Wente noted—a figure that works out to 28.3 for every 100 live births. But that’s not the same as 28.3 per cent (i.e., “nearly 30 per cent”) of total pregnancies. It means that out of 128.3 abortions and live births in Canada, there were 28.3 abortions. That works out to 22 per cent.

But that excludes a very common pregnancy outcome: miscarriages and stillbirths, or as StatsCan calls the sum of these unfortunate events, “fetal loss.” The full breakdown of these pregnancy outcomes hasn’t been released for 2005, but in 2004 there were 445,899 pregnancies recorded in Canada, of which two per cent resulted in “fetal loss” and 76 per cent in live births. 22.4 per cent ended in abortion (slightly higher than in 2005).

That’s not the end of the story, however. The “fetal loss” figure is way too low, because Statistics Canada only counts miscarriages that require hospitalization, and stillbirths “where the product of conception has a birth weight of 500 grams or more or the duration of pregnancy is 20 weeks or longer.” Experts disagree on the actual percentage of pregnancies that end in miscarriage, but one in five is a frequently cited figure. If that’s right, for the sake of argument, then the actual percentage of pregnancies that end in abortion would probably be less than 20.

This may still be too high for Ms. Wente, for all we know. But we hope it brightens her Sunday.