Small groups of pro-choice protesters rallied in Montreal and Ottawa today in support of women in New Brunswick after the announcement earlier this month that the province’s only private abortion clinic would be shut down.

The Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, N.B., is set to close at the end of July after a 20-year fight with the provincial government over funding.


Henry Morgentaler died before his lawsuit against the province of New Brunswick was decided on in court. His family later asked for the suit to be dropped.

The clinic, named after well-known Montreal abortionist Henry Morgentaler, is the only private abortion facility in New Brunswick and the only one east of Montreal.

It provided abortion services to more than 10,000 women over 20 years.

However, after Morgentaler’s death in 2013, the clinic in Fredericton’s funding was put in a precarious situation.

Morgentaler vs. New Brunswick

Morgentaler opened his first abortion clinic in Montreal in 1969, when attempting to induce an abortion was a crime punishable by life imprisonment and the woman faced imprisonment of two years.

Henry Morgentaler

ANALYSIS: How Henry Morgentaler changed Canada's laws (CP)

Anti-abortion activists targeted the clinics, and rallies, protests and many legal battles followed. On Jan. 28, 1988, the Supreme Court struck down Canada's abortion law as unconstitutional.

Morgentaler launched a lawsuit against the New Brunswick government in 2002, demanding the government pay for procedures at his clinic.

The lawsuit, which the clinic says cost him more than $1 million, had been in limbo since the death of the abortion rights activist last May. The family officially asked for it to be dropped earlier this month.

The province pays for abortions at two hospitals, but only if a woman gets approval from two doctors who certify the procedure is “medically necessary.”


  • A previous version of the Canadian Press story said protests were happening in seven Canadian cities. Only Ottawa and Montreal had protests planned for today. CBC News regrets the error.
    Apr 26, 2014 2:13 PM ET
With files from La Presse Canadienne