Morgentaler Decision turns 25: a ‘day of shame for Canada’
OTTAWA, Ontario, 28 January, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Imagine if someone were to take one Loonie (a Canadian dollar coin) for every one of the 2.6 million abortions in Canada since 1988 and place them, one after another, along a stretch of highway. There would be a mind-boggling 70 kilometers of coins, about 43.5 miles. If someone were to add to this the number of abortions since 1969, when the deadly procedure was first decriminalized, over 3.4 million coins would line 90 kilometers of highway, about 56 miles.
January 28, 2013 marks the 25-year anniversary of the Morgentaler Decision. On this day in 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the few remaining protections still afforded to unborn babies by the 1969 Liberal government’s “Omnibus Bill,” which already permitted abortion under permissive circumstances.
The passage of the 1969 “Omnibus Bill”, remembered by pro-lifers as Canada’s “Day of Infamy,” let loose the floodgates of legal abortion in Canada, practically allowing abortion-on-demand. The 1988 Morgentaler Decision then opened the floodgates of abortion on-demand to their maximum capacity.
The Morgentaler Decision meant that a pregnant woman could legally terminate the life of her unborn child during all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever. The decision placed Canada alongside communist China in having no legislation whatsoever protecting young human life in a mother’s womb.
Nine years after the decision, the number of abortions in Canada increased by a staggering 53.4%.
Jim Hughes, President of Campaign Life Coalition, called the anniversary a “day of shame for Canada”.
"As a global leader in human rights, it’s a disgrace that for the last 25 years, this country’s government has neglected to put an end to the greatest human rights violation of our time, the killing of children before birth,” he said in a press release.
Canadian women speak out against the decision
Stephanie Gray, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, called the anniversary a “solemn day that impacts every Canadian.” She said Canadians have “failed miserably to live up to the standards of our Constitution,” which guarantees everyone a right to life, including the “youngest of our kind”.
“Due to R. v. Morgentaler, our streets are emptier, our pre-born brothers and sisters live tenuously in a state of constant danger, and a generation of girls has been sold the insidious lie that their sons and daughters are disposable for any arbitrary reason at all,” she told LifeSiteNews (LSN).
Andrea Mrozek, manager of research at Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, called the anniversary a day to “mourn the sorrow and pain Morgentaler caused [to women] precisely because the decision made abortion mainstream.”
“Morgentaler chose to ‘treat’ a woman’s suffering with the death of her unborn child,” she told LSN.
Faye Sonier, legal counsel for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, said that the Morgentaler decision “robbed Canada of part of itself.
Jakki Jeffs, executive director or Alliance for Life Ontario, remembers clearly the day she learned that the Supreme Court had struck down existing abortion laws.
“That call stopped the baking, stopped the family chatter, stopped me in my tracks, I could not believe the Court would abandon Canada’s little ones,” she said.
Canada’s ‘Father of Abortion’
Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a militant atheist, has been referred to as ‘Canada’s Father of Abortion’. Pro-life advocates have pointed out that Morgentaler, more than any other single person, is responsible for the current legal vacuum that every unborn baby in the country faces.
Morgentaler, approaching 90, is no stranger to brutality. He was incarcerated as a young man at a Nazi concentration camp for his Jewish ancestry. In 1950 Morgentaler immigrated to Canada and practiced medicine. He very soon came to devote his energies to spreading contraception, becoming one of the country’s first doctors to perform vasectomies, insert IUDs, and provide unmarried women with the pill.
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By 1973, Morgentaler claimed to have performed over 5000 illegal abortions. Numerous attempts to bring him to justice before the law proved futile since mounting public sentiment was on his side.
Morgentaler was charged in 1983 with performing ‘illegal abortions’ after opening English Canada’s first abortion clinic in Toronto. His case reached the Supreme Court of Canada in 1986.
In 1988, the Supreme Court ruled in Morgentaler’s favor, striking down the existing abortion law for procedural reasons on the grounds that such law threatened a women’s “security of person,” which is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Supreme Court Justices allegedly removed all restrictions on abortion without considering available evidence at the time that the life in a mother’s womb is not ‘her own body’, but a unique unrepeatable human being.
Pro-life advocates have pointed out that unlike the 1973 Roe V. Wade of the United States, the 1988 Morgentaler Decision did not give women a constitutional ‘right’ to abortion, but simply declared as ‘unconstitutional’ Section 251 of the Criminal Code that governed abortion.
The court in fact left the “abortion question” to Parliament to “pronounce on and to direct social policy”.
While the decision encouraged Parliament to enact a new law governing abortion, Canada remains lawless regarding abortion to this day, despite a controversial attempt in 1989 to legislate on abortion during the Mulroney Progressive Conservative government. Pro-life organizations around the country saw Bill C-43 as a phony effort to legislate on abortion that would offer no real protection to human life in the womb.
For his work in securing legal abortion on-demand for Canadian women, Morgentaler was awarded the Order of Canada in 2008.
Pro-lifers will ‘press on’
Jakki Jeffs reflected on the up-hill struggle the pro-life movement has faced in the past 25 years to “engage the whole of this country in a debate”.
“What we have done is constantly and consistently raised our voices against the slaughter, continued to prick the conscience of this great nation, be a thorn in the side of her politicians and a challenge to the medical profession and pro-abortion advocates,” she said.
Jeffs criticized the “moral and ethical cowardice” of many Canadian doctors who place women and their offspring into “abortion harm’s way” by remaining “content to confirm the belief in the public eye that children before birth are a part of their mothers, like a toe or a fingernail.”
Despite the uphill struggle in winning public opinion to favor new life in the womb, Jeffs remains determined to fight on behalf of those who have no voice.
“Our voice will continue to shout out a challenge,” she said. “Our efforts will provide support and options. Our activities will remind Canadians that we really are all created equal before and under the law until they get it and stop the killing.”
Stephanie Gray, agreeing with Jeffs, said that pro-lifers must keep-up the pressure in the fight for the right-to-life of pre-born children.
“January 28 is a reminder that we in the pro-life movement have not yet earned the right to rest, not as long as pre-born children are being tortured to death across our country every day.”
“On January 28 we reflect. And on January 29, we press on,” she said.
Andrea Mrozek believes that more and more women are beginning to distance themselves from abortion.
“For every feminist out there who claims ‘abortion is a woman’s right’ I will rise up forcefully to declare they do not represent me.”
A 2011 Environics poll showed that 72% of Canadians want legal protection for children in the womb, with 28% supporting protections from conception.
Mrozek said that many Canadians, including a growing number of women, are becoming emboldened to make their views against abortion public.
“The anniversary of the Morgentaler decision is a sombre occasion but a reminder to keep on fighting,” she said.