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article imageOnt. Health Ministry withholding public data on abortion services

By Andrew Moran     Aug 10, 2012 in Politics
Toronto - One Canadian media outlet was told that the Ontario government has recently restricted access to public records on abortion services due to the fact that it is labelled as "highly sensitive," which has prompted many complaints from groups.
Should Queen’s Park be able to limit public access to records regarding abortion services just because it’s “highly sensitive?” Anti-abortion organizations are arguing against the provincial government’s decision to confine the public from retrieving abortion services records, according to an anti-abortion Institute of Marriage and Family news release.
“Records relating to abortion services are highly sensitive and that is why a decision was made to exempt these records,” said the Ontario Health Ministry in a statement to the National Post.
Accessing this information is pertinent, according Andrea Mrozek, spokesperson for the anti-abortion Institute of Marriage and Family, because the statistics that are already released by government agencies are suspect. One of the ways to combat the substandard data was to file Freedom of Information requests.
Due to a change in Bill 122, which was designed for enhanced monetarily transparency and the clause was passed in January, abortion services records were exempted from the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act.
“There’s abortions done in Ontario that are not covered by OHIP, by people paying out of pocket. And those things would never be in CIHI stats,” explained Mrozek in an interview with the news outlet. “In order to be able to understand these usage of services throughout the country, and how they’re distributed, where they’re required, having complete data from an academic sense would also have some value.”
Meanwhile, Ontario Progressive Conservative Health Critic Christine Elliott told the news agency that although the information is “more sensitive than other types of procedures,” there is no valid reason to conceal the data statistics.
“I can only assume they are making that determination based on a level of violence that some abortion facilities have experienced in the past,” said Elliott.
National Post columnist Kelly McParland opined that the information is indeed sensitive, but so are other statistics, such as crime, sexual assaults and child abuse.
“The government has seen fit to exclude none of those from its legislation, however. Only abortion. Of all the tender matters in which it is required to be involved, abortion is the only one it feels is too hot for the public to handle,” wrote McParland.
In the end, the anti-abortion group is calling for repealing the changes to Bill 122, provincial governments should mandate annual reports of abortion statistics and urge opposition Members of Provincial Parliaments, citizens and media outlets to “wakeup” to accountability.
More about ontario health ministry, abortion services, deb matthews, public data, Christine Elliott
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