In an unprecedented move, Dr. Morgentaler's supporters have decided to catalogue past rejections and spur a public debate about why one of Canada's iconic figures has never received its highest honour. ... “Clearly, Henry Morgentaler is one of the most courageous Canadians of our generation,” [Clayton Ruby] said... It has been 20 years since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's abortion law.It is because of the selfless struggle led by Dr. Henry Morgentaler - often putting his own life at risk - that countless Canadian women have been spared the butchery, shame, and often death that were often the prior results of a woman exercising the simple right of control over her own body.
The path to that decision arguably began in 1967, when Dr. Morgentaler presented a brief to the House of Commons health and welfare committee in which he urged that Canada's restrictive abortion law be repealed. The next year, he performed his first abortion and then, in 1969, he defied the law by opening a private abortion clinic. In 1970, the doctor was arrested and acquitted, but the acquittal was overturned and he served 10 months of an 18-month sentence in prison.
Legal battles multiplied until the issue made its way to the highest court. On Jan. 28, 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's abortion law, ruling that Parliament had a legitimate interest in protecting human fetuses but that the existing prohibition on abortion was disproportionate in its means and failed to protect women's right to security of the person.
Although detractors like Andrea Mrozek, founding director of ProWomanProLife claim that legal access to safe, medical abortions have "done women irreparable harm," on balance, their position with respect to honouring Dr. Morgentaler is perhaps understandable, but regrettable. Irreparable harm is what was perpetrated on young Canadian women who once were forced to seek out back alley abortionists, or turn to self-mutilation with wire coat hangers. By enabling and providing a safe medical choice, Henry Morgentaler saved young women from ever having to face this sort of grim choice, and for that he deserves to be honoured with the Order of Canada.
Do you agree? Then vote in the Globe and Mail poll, calling for Dr. Morgentaler's investiture in Canada's highest honour.
[Technorati tags: henry morgentaler | abortion | order of canada]