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1967: Dr. Henry Morgentaler enters the abortion debate

The Story

In the late 1960s Dr. Henry Morgentaler -- a Montreal family physician -- emerges as a vocal advocate for the right of Canadian women to have abortion on demand. Attempting to induce an abortion is a crime punishable by life in prison, or two years imprisonment if the woman herself is convicted. Abortion becomes Canada's most explosive issue. While the growing women's liberation movement pushes for legal change, many Canadians maintain that abortion is murder. In 1967 Morgentaler speaks before a government committee considering changes to the abortion law. In 1969 the federal government amends the law to make abortion legal under restricted conditions. An abortion can now be performed if a hospital committee decides continuation of the pregnancy would likely endanger the mother's life or health.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: Oct. 20, 1967
Guest(s): Henry Morgentaler
Duration: 1:24

Did You know?

• In 1967 Dr. Henry Morgentaler was president of the Humanist Fellowship of Montreal. Humanism is an atheist movement that believes in improving society through love, equity and reason. In 1968 Morgentaler became the first president of the newly formed Humanist Association of Canada (HAC). The association remains active although the Montreal group has disbanded.


Dr. Henry Morgentaler: Fighting Canada's Abortion Laws more