May 21st, 2024

With surveys, it’s how question is asked

By Letter to the Editor on March 19, 2020.

From time to time, I read reports of surveys conducted by Lethbridge College showing that southern Albertans are becoming increasingly supportive of abortion and euthanasia. I have always been skeptical of these surveys and now I know why, having taken part in one myself.

John Warren (March 10 Letters) argues that our MP should follow the will of her constituents, 81.2 per cent of whom, according to the most recent survey “support legal medical assistance in dying.” Of course! Who wouldn’t if the question is posed that way? If, instead, respondents had been asked if they supported ending the lives of terminally ill patients who no longer wish to live, I suspect the numbers might have been quite different. There is a difference between providing medical assistance to a dying patient and actively causing death. If the question had been whether or not respondents agreed that a B.C. hospice should be denied government funds (as is the case) for refusing to practice euthanasia, I’d be surprised if there were majority support.

Likewise “Abortion is a matter of choice that should be decided by a woman and her doctor.” Well, who else but a doctor is in a position to determine that an abortion is medically necessary? But that is not the actual situation in Canada. If the question had been “Do you think abortion should be legally available for any reason at any stage of pregnancy, without needing any prior medical referral?” (which is the actual situation), I doubt that the responses would have been as positive. What about those not infrequent cases where women feel forced into abortions by parents or boyfriends, thereby making a mockery of the argument that a woman has a right to decide what happens to her own body?

The situation is much more nuanced that at first appears. National polls which ask more specific questions consistently find widespread support for a variety of safeguards that do not legally exist in Canada today and are opposed by the so-called “pro-choice” lobby. This support of safeguards is true even of the majority of Canadians who otherwise favour unrestricted access to abortion.

As to whether our MP should reflect the views of her constituents, the fact is she was returned to Parliament at the last federal election with a large majority, which implies that she does reflect the views of that majority on most issues.

J. Cameron Fraser


Share this story:

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Here we go again down this road again. You’re right, it’s how questions are asked, as your own have proved. Let’s start with some facts. Abortion is between a woman and her doctor. The SCC has decided this. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects this. Your statement about that a woman can get a abortion at any time is factually true but isn’t what is happening. The CMA has very strict guidelines After 20 weeks and less than 3% of total procedures occur after that. You would think that since Canada has no rules on abortion it would be more than the U.S. but data from 2014 shows that for women aged 15-44 has 12.1 procedures per 1000 while Canada has 8.03

Who woulda thought

J. Cameron Fraser

I don’t dispute your statistics. At least your response has the merit of being fact based and reasoned…a welcome relief from the usual vitriol. That said, while an abortion may technically be between a woman and her doctor, there is no need in practice for any medical referral. “Her” doctor becomes the one who performs the procedure, whom she has likely never met before.

John P Nightingale

Talking about surveys and polling questionnaires , it is worth re-reading those “surveys” asked by our MP within a monthly (or thereabouts) newsletter from The Hill. Her questions are biased, devoid of reason and quite literally, would be discarded into the scrap heap of history by any reasonable statistician.
As with your reasoning in the letter, her arguments concerning the gun lobby, Conversion Therapy, euthanasia and abortion to name but four, are spurious and speak of her almost extreme desire to invoke her socially conservative principles. Such ideas may be embraced by some but most certainly not everyone.


gs172 and jpn are on the mark. the writer, notwithstanding the point that how a question is worded has influence on outcomes, is off the mark. the writer may choose to live out every last, painful breath as one may choose; fortunately, others may choose to say when enough is enough in a humane manner.
of course, what the writer and others in that camp always overlook is that choice is the overriding principle. once again may i state unequivocally: stay out of the bodies of others.

J. Cameron Fraser

There’s a difference between not prolonging suffering unnecessarily by artificial means and actively ending a life. There are means of relieving pain, so one does not have to “live out every last, painful breath.”

John P Nightingale

“There are means of relieving pain, so one does not have to “live out every last, painful breath.”
Perfect JCM. Exactly the mandate of MAID!