Thursday, May 30, 2013

Abortion-Rights Activist Dr. Henry Morgentaler Dies At age 90; Fought For 20 Years To Change Laws

Women’s Reproductive Rights

Dr. Henry Morgentaler after his 28 January 1988 victory before the Canadian Supreme Court,
winning after a 20-year struggle to legalize abortion. The Ottawa Citizen writes: “
When Morgentaler
went into private practice, abortion was illegal in Canada. The only way a woman could have an
abortion was if a panel of doctors at an accredited hospital agreed that the pregnancy endangered
her life. Anyone convicted of performing the operation for any other reason could be jailed for life.
At the time, it was also against the law to sell or to advertise for sale anything that might prevent
conception, which meant pharmacists could be and sometimes were jailed for selling condoms.”

Photo Credit: Fred Charland
Source: Ottawa Citizen
An article in CBC News says that Dr. Henry Morgentaler has died at age 90; the Canadian medical doctor was famous for advocating  for access to legalized abortions for women, eventually persuading the federal government to change its pre-modern abortion laws. In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled then-laws unconstitutional —a victory for women’s reproductive right.
Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who led the abortion movement in Canada, has died at age 90, more than four decades after breaking the law at the time and opening the country's first abortion clinic in Montreal.
Carolyn Egan, with the Ontario Coalition of Abortion Clinics, said she spoke with members of Morgentaler's family, who told her he died early Wednesday morning, surrounded by family, and that it was a peaceful death at his Toronto home.
Morgentaler emerged in 1969 as one of Canada's most controversial figures when he broke the law at the time, and opened the country's first abortion clinic in Montreal. Over the next two decades, he would be heralded as a hero by some, and called a murderer by others as he fought to change Canada's abortion laws.
Morgentaler, who was born in Lodz, Poland, and came to Canada after the Second World War, emerged in 1967 as an advocate for the right of women to have abortion on demand — a polarizing issue in Canada. His abortion clinic in Montreal was followed by more clinics across the country. 
"His work changed the legal landscape in Canada, and eventually led to the 1988 landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision that gave women the right to obtain abortion care," said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation. "Dr. Morgentaler was a legend, a hero, and a national treasure in both our countries, and we will miss him dearly." 
Individuals like Morgentaler are pioneers, willing to take the risk to make important changes that give freedom and individual liberty to others.The Polish-born Jew is on record as saying his experiences during the Holocaust informed his views on the importance on freedom and choice and on having the ability to fight governments on important matters.

Not everyone views Morgentaler as a hero, notably Christians who hold a more restrictive and narrow views on such matters. But I disagree with their views on abortions, as I disagree with their views on many things. In my estimation, Dr. Morgentaler was indeed a hero, not only to women, but to everyone who understands the full implications of his fight to bring Canada out of the pre-modern age and into the modern age.


1923 — Henry Morgentaler born in Lodz, Poland.

1950 — Moves to Canada after surviving Holocaust.

1955 — Starts a family practice in Montreal.

1967 — Urges Commons committee to reconsider abortion law.

1969 — Opens Montreal abortion clinic.

1974 — Acquitted on abortion charges by Quebec jury, later overturned by Quebec Court of Appeal. A jury later acquits Morgentaler a second time.

1984 — Acquitted by Ontario jury, along with two other doctors.

1988 — Hails Supreme Court of Canada ruling striking down the abortion law as unconstitutional.

2005 — Receives honorary degree from the University of Western Ontario in London.

2008 — Named to the Order of Canada.

You can read the rest of the article at [CBC News]