CBC Digital Archives

Abortion law ruled unconstitutional

In 1969 Dr. Henry Morgentaler emerged as one of Canada's most controversial figures when he broke the law and opened the country's first abortion clinic. Over the next two decades, the Montreal doctor would be heralded as a hero by some and called a murderer by others as he fought to change Canada's abortion laws.

media clip
On Jan. 28, 1988, Henry Morgentaler wins his long fight. The Supreme Court of Canada strikes down Canada's abortion law as unconstitutional. The law is found to violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it infringes upon a woman's right to "life, liberty and security of person."
• In March 1989 the Supreme Court of Canada refused to decide on a claim by Joe Borowski that fetuses have a constitutionally guaranteed right to life. Since the abortion law had already been struck down in 1988, his case was found to be moot.

• In 1990 the government tried to bring back some form of criminal control over abortion but Bill C-43 was defeated narrowly in the Senate.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Jan. 28, 1988
Guest(s): Kathleen Lahey, Laura MacArthur, Henry Morgentaler
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Ian Hanomansing
Duration: 2:58

Last updated: January 28, 2015

Page consulted on January 28, 2015

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Dr. Henry Morgentaler: Fighting Canada's Abor...

In 1969 Dr. Henry Morgentaler emerged as one of Canada's most controversial figures when he br...

Trudeau's Omnibus Bill: Challenging Canadian ...

"There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation." Those unforgettable words made...

1982: Finally, a woman on Canada's Supreme Co...

Women's rights groups pop open champagne as Bertha Wilson becomes the first female justice on ...

University honours Morgentaler

In a controversial decision, the University of Western Ontario confers an honorary degree on M...

India: Trading the sari for the short skirt

In the new India, young middle-class women reject traditional dress and arranged marriages.

Welcome to the Supreme Court, Louise Arbour

After gaining international renown for her war crimes tribunal work, Arbour becomes a Supreme ...