“Justice for the women of Canada has finally arrived,” shouted Dr. Henry Morgentaler, after Canada’s abortion laws were overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada this February. Those laws required women to receive permission from a hospital panel and, if married, sometimes from their husbands before an abortion could be performed.
Morgentaler, a Montreal-based gynecologist and Holocaust survivor who has spearheaded Canada’s abortion revolution, was tried four times in the past 20 years for opening abortion clinics and was jailed on numerous occasions for defying laws he described as “inhumane.” He has been the chronic target of anti-Semitic attacks by the forces that attempted to close down each abortion facility.
The court’s decision, ruling on an appeal of Morgentaler’s fourth trial, now virtually guarantees Canadian women access to abortion, although right-wing legislatures in provinces may impede the process.
Morgentaler has said that his experiences under the Nazis, when some women were forced to have babies while others were forcibly prevented from giving birth, shaped his strong views that women’s bodies must be under their own control.