Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. anti-abortion group protests Morgentaler's induction to order

A Newfoundland and Labrador anti-abortion group protested the awarding of the Order of Canada to Dr. Henry Morgentaler at a rally in St. John's Wednesday afternoon.

Members of a Newfoundland and Labrador anti-abortion group held a protest rally in St. John's Wednesday afternoon to add their voices to those opposed to Dr. Henry Morgentaler receiving the Order of Canada.

About 40 people attended the rally, organized by the Right to Life Association, at Government House, the home of the lieutenant-governor.

Protesters circled the gates at Government House on Military Road, wearing placards with phrases such as "abortion kills children" and "God save us and our nation."

Patrick Hanlon, president of the Right to Life Association, told CBC News the protest was in solidarity with a similar protest scheduled for Wednesday outside the home of the Governor General in Ottawa.

Hanlon said members of his organization don't think Morgentaler deserves to be a member of the Order of Canada. The doctor, credited with being an abortion rights crusader, was named a member of the order on July 1.

"A lot of people will say this is a man that's made abortion safe. Well, actually he's not, he's made abortion legal," Hanlon said. "Before it became legal in this country, they were performed in hospitals and clinics, they were just not discussed."

Hanlon said Morgentaler is not deserving of the award.

"Morgentaler is a very divisive person, he's not a unifying person that all Canadians are proud of, and those are the people, the people Canadians are proud of, that get the awards," Hanlon said.

Born in Poland, Morgentaler immigrated to Montreal after surviving the Holocaust. He opened his first abortion clinic in 1969 and performed thousands of procedures, which were illegal at the time.

Throughout his career, Morgentaler's clinics were constantly raided and one in Toronto was firebombed. The doctor was arrested several times and spent months in jail as he fought his case at all court levels in Canada.

His victory came on Jan. 28, 1988, when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's abortion law. That law, which required a woman who wanted an abortion to appeal to a three-doctor hospital abortion committee, was declared unconstitutional.