Induced abortion in Canada 1974-2005: trends over the first generation with legal access

Contraception. 2012 Feb;85(2):185-91. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2011.06.009. Epub 2011 Aug 4.


Background: Canadian women currently entering menopause are the first generation with access to legal induced abortion throughout their reproductive years.

Study design: Statistics Canada data from 1974 to 2005 on age-specific abortion and first-abortion rates were analyzed to determine the proportion of the cohort hypothetically and actually undergoing at least one induced abortion, as well as the age-specific trends.

Results: Among Canadian women who turned 45 years old in 2005, 31% had at least one abortion, with a median age at first abortion of 24 years. Since 1997, age-specific induced abortion rates overall and among teenagers have declined significantly, while rates among older women show less decline as age increases. Annually from 1974 to 2005, women aged 20-29 years account for 52% (SD 1.8%) of all abortions in Canada.

Conclusions: Induced abortion is a common procedure experienced by nearly a third of Canadian women during their reproductive years. Consistently, half of all women accessing abortion are in their twenties. These findings suggest that Canadian women, particularly those in their twenties, experience a significant unmet need for effective contraception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal / statistics & numerical data
  • Abortion, Legal / trends*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive Behavior
  • Young Adult