Abortion got legalized in Canada in the late eighties. In January 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada overturned a national law banning abortion. Prior to the decision the abortion law was rarely enforced, but the 1973 arrest and subsequent trials of physician Henry Morgentaler for performing abortions sparked a heated debate over abortion rights in Canada. This Toronto Sun article reveals the reaction of some Canadians the day after the Supreme Court’s 1988 decision.
Pro-choice advocates shouted their victory outside Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s Harbord St. clinic [in Toronto] yesterday after the Supreme Court slammed Canada’s abortion law as unconstitutional.
While right-to-life groups ‘prayed for justice for unborn babies’ the pro-choicers drowned all prayers with chants of ‘victory is ours today’ and ‘the people have spoken, the clinics stay open.’
At first, 150 anti-abortion protesters dominated the scene but by nightfall the pro-choice contingent had swelled, numbering close to 450.
‘This is a very important day for abortion rights and the women’s movement,’ said Jill Lawless, Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics member. ‘It’s been demonstrated today that the courts had to finally listen to the voice of women who have been demanding this for 20 years.’
Jocelyn Piercy, another pro-choice coalition member, said her group was out to guard Morgentaler’s clinic and patients to prevent vandalism and harassment.
She said the clinic was fully booked and between 15 and 18 women had abortions.
‘It seems like a total victory for the pro-choice movement,’ said coalition spokeswoman Lynn Lathrop. ‘It’s going to have a profound effect on the lives of millions of Canadian women who have fought for equality and reproductive freedom.’ Pro-choice spokeswoman Judy Rebick said the court’s decision likely won’t stop anti-abortion crusaders.
‘We may have won, but people will still try to stop us,’ she said. ‘We’re still going to have to keep on fighting. But we won the big victory.’
Many religious leaders expressed dismay at the ruling but Anne Squire, the moderator of the United Church of Canada, said the court ‘made the right decision — the abortion law was unfair, if not unconstitutional.’
Canada’s medical profession seemed unanimous yesterday in its praise of the ruling.
The court ruling on abortion repeats ‘almost word-for-word,’ the Ontario Medical Association’s stand on the issue, said Dr. Ted Boadway, the OMA’s director of professional services.
The Canadian Medical Association co-authored the position with the OMA.
Dr. Mimi Divinsky of the Medical Reform Group said: ‘We’re thrilled at the decision.’
She said the MRG is urging the government to establish free-standing, insured abortion clinics in Ontario.
Dr. Michael Dixon, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, said he doubts the ruling will have much effect on the way hospitals handle abortions now. But whatever the odds, there was a frenzy of celebration when Abortion got legalized in Canada.
Source: Copyright 1988, Sun Media Corporation. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.