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Famed Canadian abortionist Henry Morgentaler
Steve Weatherbe

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Activists urge Ontario to ignore new prostitution law just like they ignored abortion law in 1980s

Steve Weatherbe

An HIV-AIDS activist opposed to Canada’s new prostitution law is encouraging the Ontario attorney general to just ignore it the way Ontario ignored Canada’s abortion law in 1987, while it was facing a constitutional challenge.

Richard Elliott of the Canadian HIV-AIDS Legal Network told a panel discussing the new law in Toronto that Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur could just order the province’s Crown attorneys not to prosecute any charges brought by police until the law’s constitutionality is settled.

There can be no challenge until there has been a charge laid under the law, but a provincial attorney general can ask a court for a legal opinion.

In the challenge that resulted in Canada’s abortion law being thrown out in 1988, abortionist Henry Morgentaler, who had been acquitted by sympathetic juries twice of clear cut violations of the law, appealed several new charges all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. While the challenge was pending, Morgentaler and two other doctors kept their Toronto abortion facility open and police charged them again. But the then-attorney general, Ian Scott, withheld further prosecution.

Calling the situation “analogous,” Elliott called for Ontario to show the same caution.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne has already voiced the concerns of several groups, including ones devoted to protecting prostitutes as they continue in their “sex work,” that the new law will endanger prostitutes by driving their business further underground.

One group of 190 legal experts from across Canada has written Wynne to warn the new law could cause “the same harms” to prostitutes as the previous law, which the Supreme Court of Canada threw out last year. The new law seeks to end prostitution and provides $20 million to move current prostitutes into other occupations. Opponents seek to decriminalize it altogether.

A second group, the Pivot Legal Society, is urging B.C. Premier Christy Clark to put a freeze on prosecutions too. B.C.’s Attorney General Susan Anton, asked by LifeSiteNews if the provincial government had any issues with the new law, failed to give it any kind of endorsement:  “As with any new criminal laws that Parliament puts into place, the Ministry of Justice will study the legislation. I will continue to work with my federal, provincial and territorial counterparts to find long-term solutions to protect vulnerable and at-risk women and youth,” she said.

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