Archive | 30 years ago, a bomb exploded in Toronto at Dr. Morgentaler's clinic
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On May 18, 1992, an explosive device destroyed Dr. Henry Morgentaler's clinic in Toronto.
On May 18, 1992, Dr. Henry Morgentaler's Toronto clinic, where abortions are performed, was destroyed by a bomb. This event is an episode in the long battle between opponents and supporters of voluntary termination of pregnancy in Canada.
“Doctor Henry Morgentaler accuses the opponents abortion of being responsible for the explosion that destroyed his clinic in Toronto early this morning. »
— Charles Tisseyre, host of Le Téléjournal, May 18, 1992
Report by journalist Marc-André Masson on the destruction of the clinic in doctor Henry Morgentaler
On this morning of May 18, 1992, as recalled by the report by journalist Marc-André Masson presented on Téléjournal, the Toronto clinic of Dr. Morgentaler is a field of ruins.
The place is so damaged that the firefighters refuse to venture there for fear that the building will collapse on them.
We rule out the possibility of an accident caused by a gas leak.
The police officers who investigate believe rather that it is on a criminal track that they must concentrate.
It is all the controversy surrounding the existence of Dr. Morgentaler's clinic that pushes the police to favor the hypothesis of a criminal act.
Doctor Morgentaler shares the opinion of the police
Behind this explosion lies the desire of pro-life activists to put an end to the activities of the clinic.
Henry Morgentaler describes in the report these activists as being reactionary elements, religious fanatics, who are opposed to women's rights.
In recent years, the pro-life movement has lost several legal battles in an attempt to ban abortion in Canada.
Dr. Morgentaler's Toronto clinic is seen as a symbol of those defeats.
Let's go back 10 years.
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Report by journalist Rachel Verdon on the evolution of abortion rights in Ontario.
As shown in this report by journalist Rachel Verdon, presented on the program Première page, on November 23, 1982, and hosted by Louis Martin, Doctor Henry Morgentaler then went on a crusade to Toronto.
A pro-choice activist for the right to abortion since the end of the 1960s, the doctor is fuming.
You can have an abortion in Toronto and Ontario, but access to this procedure is restricted there.
Ontarian doctors who perform this procedure are particularly likely to be sued under section 251 of the Canadian Criminal Code.
The latter requires obtaining authorization from the therapeutic committees and performing this act in a hospital.< /p>
However, at the time, in Ontario, the quotas authorized by the therapeutic committees were much lower than the demand because of the pressure exerted by the pro-life movement.
Furthermore, while Jewish hospitals perform abortions, Catholic hospitals prohibit them.
Doctors who ignore the requirements of Section 251 can be sued.
The situation is more or less similar in the other provinces of English Canada.
Dr. Morgentaler therefore specifically wants Ontario – and subsequently the other provinces of English Canada – to liberalize their laws on access to abortion, as the province of Quebec has already done.
After the broadcast of Rachel Verdon's report in 1982, the legal context evolved and opened the door to the decriminalization of abortion in Canada.
In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada declared section 251 of the Canadian Criminal Code unconstitutional.
The decision is based on the principle that it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in particular because it contravenes the notion of the safety of women.
In 1989, the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed by their decision in Tremblay v. Daigle, that the fetus has no legal identity before birth.
This decision removes a weighty legal argument from the pro-life movement.
In 1990, the government of Brian Mulroney tried to once again restrict abortion in Canada.
His bill was however rejected by the Senate of Canada.
In 1992, Dr. Morgentaler's Toronto clinic was therefore perfectly legal.
This is what infuriates many pro-life activists.
Report by journalist Marc-André Masson on the aftermath of the explosion at Dr. Henry Morgentaler's clinic in Toronto
The next day of the annihilation of the clinic on May 19, 1992, as highlighted in this report by journalist Marc-André Masson presented in Téléjournal and moderated by Bernard Derome, the police confirmed the criminal nature of the 'blast.
The reaction is strong.
Opposite the site where the attack took place, hundreds of pro-choice activists demonstrate their support for Dr. Morgentaler.
The latter believes that pro-life activists may have hired an American professional to destroy the clinic. The doctor swears that he will rebuild the latter.
He needs $250,000 to get there though. The Ontario government anticipates an announcement already planned and confirms that it will financially support the decision of Henry Morgentaler.
The Toronto bombing does nothing to bridge the gap between pro-choice supporters and pro-life activists.
Marc-André Masson even concludes that the event will galvanize supporters of free choice for abortion.
They will bet on their recent legal and political victories to demand better access to this service in the country, believes the journalist.
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