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Canada legalizes contraceptives

One tablet, once a day: that routine is followed by as many as 80 million women worldwide to prevent pregnancy. The birth control pill, simply known as the pill, was the first drug to be approved for healthy women. When it first came on the Canadian market in the 1960s, feminists hailed it as a medical breakthrough while the Pope condemned its use as immoral. The pill would be one of the most significant developments of the 20th century.

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In June 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his Liberal government legalize all forms of contraception. Canadians such as Aileen Hall, director of the Planned Parenthood Association in Toronto, says it is long overdue. Hall tells CBC's Barbara Frum that the change will make it easier for organizations like hers to counsel women. Even the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops states it will not oppose the amendment.

But, like the Pope, there are Canadians such as Liberal MP Ralph Cowan who resist the change. A devout Catholic, Cowan is against birth control and advocates self-restraint as the only moral choice. Almost a decade after the birth control pill first appeared on the Canadian market, it continues to spark debate.
• Twenty years after his interview with Barbara Frum, Liberal MP Ralph Cowan told the CBC's Eve Savory that he still objected to use of the birth control pill.

• In 1997 Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the Catholic Church's opposition to artificial contraception.

• Mother Teresa declared in 1993 that all contraceptives were inherently selfish.

• Section 179c of the old Criminal Code had stated: "Everyone commits an offence who offers to sell, advertise. instructions, medications, drug or article intended or represented as a method preventing conception."
Medium: Television
Program: The Day It Is
Broadcast Date: June 16, 1969
Guest(s): Ralph Cowan, Aileen Hall, Mary Sue McCarthy
Host: Barbara Frum
Duration: 14:59

Last updated: November 6, 2014

Page consulted on November 18, 2014

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