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Archive | May 29, 2013: Death of Doctor Henry Morgentaler

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Henry Morgentaler, Canadian doctor and pro-choice activist, died on May 29, 2013.


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On May 29, 2013, Dr. Henry Morgentaler died in Toronto at the age of 90. He was a strong advocate for the right of women to legally obtain an abortion in Canada. His fight, as we see when viewing our archives, did not go smoothly.

< p class="Text-sc-2357a233-1 imohSo">Women still have to go to charlatans, who are responsible for the majority of injuries that occur. So, deaths and serious injuries […].

A quote from Henry Morgentaler, 1971

Woman of today 'today, May 24, 1971

This comment was made to journalist France Nadeau during the show Femme d'today of May 24, 1971 by a man who made the legalization of abortion in Canada one of the great struggles of his life.

In Canada, it was in fact only in 1988 that a decision by the Supreme Court completely decriminalized abortion.

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Before this judgment by the highest court in the country, abortions were often carried out in sordid, dangerous, even fatal conditions for the women.

This situation shocked the doctor who immigrated to Canada in 1950.

Holocaust survivor, Henry Morgentaler begins to practice family medicine in Montreal in 1955.

He then gradually became aware of the appalling conditions in which clandestine abortions were carried out practiced across Canada.

In 1967, Dr. Morgentaler asked the House of Commons of Canada to modify federal law on abortion.

In 1969, the Government of Canada authorized the practice of certain abortions in hospitals when the mother's life was at risk. in danger.

This opening towards what was then called therapeutic abortions, however, did not satisfy the doctor.

As Henry Morgentaler told journalist France Nadeau, the change in the law only concerns 2% of abortion acts.

The rest continue to practice in deplorable conditions.

To obtain a safe abortion, Canadian women must go to clinics in the United States and c&#x27 ;is very expensive, laments the doctor.

There is no one who is for abortion, just as there is no one who is for brain surgery or tonsillectomy. We are for the right of women to have an abortion in good medical and psychological conditions.

A quote from Dr. Henry Morgentaler, 1976

In this context, Henry Morgentaler opened a clinic in Montreal in 1969 which performed abortions considered illegal because they were non-therapeutic.

He is being pursued by the Quebec government, which is filing three lawsuits against him for illegal medical acts that will lead him in prison for 18 months.

In 1974, the doctor was acquitted by a jury, before being found guilty in the Court of Appeal, then acquitted again by a jury.

On 60, December 14, 1976

On December 14, 1976, the broadcast The 60presents an interview with host André Payette with Henry Morgentaler, who discusses these legal proceedings.

The Ministers of Justice of Canada and Quebec, Otto Lang and Jérôme Choquette, persecuted him, claims doctor.

He even suspects that directives were given to prison guards to make his conditions of detention very difficult.

I was even put in the hole, recalls Henry Morgentaler. People ideologically opposed to my position sought to kill me, the doctor firmly believes.

The years go by…

Dr Henry Morgentaler accuses opponents of abortion of be responsible for the explosion which destroyed his Toronto clinic very early this morning.

A quote from Charles Tisseyre, host of Téléjournal, May 18, 1992

Le Téléjournal, May 18 1992

On this morning of May 18, 1992, as recalled in the report by journalist Marc-André Masson presented at the Téléjournal, Dr. Morgentaler's Toronto clinic is a field of ruins.

The place is so damaged that the firefighters refuse to venture there for fear that the building will collapse collapses on them.

The possibility of an accident caused by a gas leak is ruled out.

The police officers who investigate instead believe that they must focus on a criminal trail.

It's all the controversy surrounding the existence of Dr. Morgentaler's clinic in Toronto which pushes the police to favor this hypothesis, and the doctor shares their opinion.

Behind this explosion lies the desire of pro-life activists to stop the clinic's activities.

Henry Morgentaler describes these activists in the report as reactionary elements, religious fanatics, who are opposed to the rights of women.

Since the trials in Quebec, the pro-life movement has lost several legal battles in an attempt to completely ban abortion in Canada.

Let's go back 10 years.

First page, November 23, 1982

As shown in this report by journalist Rachel Verdon, presented on the show First page on November 23, 1982 and led by Louis Martin, Dr. Henry Morgentaler then went on a crusade to Toronto.

You can have an abortion in Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario, but access to this procedure is restricted.

Ontario doctors who perform this procedure are particularly likely to be prosecuted under section 251 of the Canadian Criminal Code.

The latter requires obtaining authorization from the therapeutic and to perform this act in a hospital.

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 movement pro-life.

Furthermore, while Jewish hospitals perform abortions, Catholic hospitals prohibit them.

Doctors who ignore the requirements of Section 251 may 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 its laws on access to abortion, as 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 practice of abortion is in fact legalized.

The decision is based on the principle that section 251 violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in particular because it contravenes the notion of women's safety.

In 1989, the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed this with their decision in Tremblay v. Daigle that the fetus does not have any legal identity before birth.

This decision removes a weighty legal argument from the pro-life movement.

In 1990, Brian Mulroney's government attempted to once again restrict abortion in Canada.

His bill was, however, rejected by the Senate.

In 1992, Dr. Morgentaler's Toronto clinic was therefore perfectly legal.

This is what infuriates many pro-life activists.

Le Téléjournal, 19 May 1992

The day after the annihilation of the clinic, May 19, 1992, as highlighted in this report by journalist Marc-André Masson presented at Téléjournal and hosted by Bernard Derome, police confirm the criminal nature of the explosion.

The reaction is strong.

In front of the site where the attack took place, hundreds of pro-choice activists demonstrate their support for Henry Morgentaler.

The doctor swears that he will rebuild his clinic. However, he needs $250,000 to get there.

Ontario government moves ahead of already planned announcement and confirms that he will financially support Henry Morgentaler's decision.

The Toronto attack does nothing to bridge the divide between pro-choice supporters and pro-life activists.

In 2008, Henry Morgentaler received the Order of Canada.

His appointment arouses indignation in pro-life circles.

Three personalities, including Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, even handed over their distinction as a protest.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116