Dr. Henry Morgentaler's
battle began in Montreal where, in the late
sixties, he opened a private abortion clinic - deliberately breaking the
law. He was charged and acquitted three times in Quebec. Then he
headed to Toronto where he did it again - he set up a clinic and broke
the law. Eventually, to no-one's surprise, he and two other doctors
were charged under the criminal code with conspiracy to procure an
abortion. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Its decision came in February, 1988 -- and it remains one of the most controversial ever made by the court. The Morgentaler case established a woman's right to abortion in this country.
In December, 1988, Michael Enright spoke with Dr. Morgentaler on the program As It Happens, and
asked him to reflect on the year in which abortions first became legally
available in Canada.
Earlier this year, a reunion took place
to mark the 25th anniversary of the decision. The players - men and women who were close to the fight, and who took the case to the Supreme Court - got together at the University of Toronto's law school, to tell a group of students what things were like - back in the day.
The panelists included Morris Manning
- the lawyer who led Henry Morgentaler's defence team, Carolyn Egan
- who was instrumental in convincing Dr. Morgentaler to open a clinic in Toronto, and Kirk Makin
- now Justice reporter for the Globe and Mail, who, twenty-five years ago, was a cub reporter in the courtroom. The moderator was Paul Schabas
, back then, a young articling student who stayed with the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
They spoke at the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights
in Toronto in February, 2013.