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abortion law pro-life pro-choice Canada Morgentaler pre-born human rights Parliament Tag

In a landmark decision already twenty-seven years old today, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canada’s then-existing abortion regulations were unconstitutional. While many Canadians grieve the subsequent loss of a full quarter of their generation through abortion, others celebrate this day with exuberance, calling Canadians to protect their unfettered access to abortion at any stage of the pregnancy. But in striking down the abortion law in 1988, did the Court recognize a constitutional right to abortion? Did they settle the issue once and for all? And if so, why do anti-abortion zealots continue to push for laws that restrict a woman’s right to choose? The answers to these questions may be unwelcome by some but the facts surrounding what has become known as the Morgentaler Decision are far different than what some Canadians choose to believe.  Even the leader of the Liberal Party, the man who aspires to become the Prime Minister of Canada, is guilty of misinterpreting the law when he attempts to defend his decision to bind the consciences of Liberal members. So then, what did the Court really say? Abortion defenders enjoy referencing Justice Bertha Wilson - the first woman appointed to Canada’s Supreme Court. Unfortunately they all too often choose selective quotes that completely misrepresent what Justice Wilson wrote. It should be noted that Justice Wilson’s opinion was not shared with the other six judges – she wrote alone – and the other judges were all more “conservative” in their three written opinions; they contemplated an even more restrictive regime than Wilson.

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