Most abortion centres across the country are located in major urban centres near the Canada-U.S. border, leaving large segments of the population without access to providers. It will be a long time before a federal government tries to re-enshrine abortion in law. Henry Morgentaler has been sued for illegal abortion. In 1973, he was acquitted by a jury. On appeal, however, the Quebec Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the jury`s decision. Morgentaler served a prison sentence. Although the situation in Canada is different from that in the United States, we must be vigilant. There is still much work to be done to ensure that everyone in Canada has equal access to abortion treatment.
There are many steps federal and provincial governments can take to improve access to abortion in Canada that do not include new legislation. The problem of unequal access to abortion is exacerbated by unregulated crisis pregnancy centres (CPCs). CPCs are anti-choice wolves disguised as sheep. They are advertised as a resource for people with unplanned pregnancies to receive support and advice. However, they deceive clients with misinformation about abortion or other options that can delay or impair their ability to access the care they need. « We don`t have specific laws for hip replacement or other medical procedures, so why would we need them for abortion? » said Julia Tetrault-Provencher, chair of the National Women`s Association National Steering Committee and the National Association of Women and the Law`s Reproductive Rights Task Force. In Canada, abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy and is publicly funded as a medical procedure under the combined effects of the Canada Health Services Act and provincial health systems.  However, access to services and resources varies from region to region. While some non-legal barriers to entry remain, Canada is the only country with absolutely no criminal restrictions on abortion.   However, the availability of abortions is subject to provincial health authority guidelines for physicians.   The general rule is that few providers offer abortion treatment beyond 23 weeks and 6 days, but in some cases there may be exceptions.   Decades later, abortions are still difficult to obtain in Canada The Quebec National Assembly passed Bill 92.
This is a larger bill, and clauses 75, 76 and 79 refer to the « bubble » or access zone. Part of the law requires protesters to maintain a legally established distance from abortion clinics. After the Supreme Court`s decision in 1988, abortion became a publicly funded medical service. It was available in many hospitals; as well as in private clinics, such as those built by Morgentaler in the towns. However, the services are not widely available. This is especially true in rural areas and parts of Atlantic Canada. The result for Morgentaler was a seemingly endless stream of raids, charges, appeals and, at one point, a short prison sentence. But it was a 1983 raid on Morgentaler`s newly opened clinic in Toronto that earned him a charge of « conspiracy to commit an abortion, » which he challenged all the way to the Supreme Court for five years. « It will be a long time before a federal government attempts to legislate abortion again, certainly not in the rest of this century, » Calgary Herald columnist William Gold wrote shortly after the Senate vote. « There is no political reward for this work, and there will be many other pressing issues that will demand attention, » he added.
The abortion rights movement in Canada is focused on establishing abortion as part of provincial health plans to ensure it is available in all regions, especially for those who otherwise could not afford it. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was only six years old and existing abortion prohibitions in Canada were removed as a violation of the newly codified right to « personal safety. » In 1967, at the beginning of this debate, the Royal Commission on the Status of Women was convened by the federal government. After three years of public hearings, it released a groundbreaking report on women`s issues. The report recommended that abortion be legalized during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. He said that after 12 weeks, abortions should only be legal if the pregnancy endangers the woman`s health; or whether the expected child would be born mentally or physically « severely disabled ». In 1969, the Liberal government allowed abortion under certain circumstances. Abortions should be performed in hospital only if a medical board has decided that the continuation of the pregnancy could endanger the life or health of the woman. Experts and advocacy groups have sharply criticized the idea of creating some sort of standalone abortion law, saying it could lead to a plethora of unintended consequences. Those who live in rural areas, especially those living on reserves, have almost no access to it. Abortion clinics in Canada are concentrated along the U.S. border, and only one in six hospitals offers abortion care. TORONTO — Winnipeg`s women`s health clinic is overwhelmed.
The facility is one of the few abortion clinics in Manitoba, a Canadian province of 1.3 million people. It responds to about 100 inquiries each week and says it offers up to 30 percent more abortions than it receives from government funding. Michelle Fortin, executive director of B.C.-based Options for Sexual Health, told insiders that advocates like her don`t necessarily want it to become law. Some patients at the Women`s Health Clinic travel to Winnipeg from Kenora, Ontario, about 130 miles away. T.K. Pritchard, executive director of the Shore Centre, which offers medical abortions in Kitchener, a city in southwestern Ontario, said he has clients from northern Ontario. He made an appointment three to four weeks in advance. In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada declared Canada`s Abortion Act unconstitutional.
The law was found to be contrary to section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it violates a woman`s right to « life, liberty and security of the person. » In particular, the court did not find that there was an inherent right to abortion under the Charter. Instead, he said the system that regulates access to abortion — specifically, the hospital review boards that were supposed to approve abortion requests — had so many obstacles and worked so poorly that it was « patently unfair. » As a result, the abortion law was dropped. (It was completely repealed in 2019.) Since no other legislation has replaced it, abortion has remained legal across Canada since 1988. In 2020, there were more than 74,000 abortions in Canada, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Most abortions in the country are performed during the first trimester of pregnancy. Each province and territory has different pregnancy limits for medications and surgical abortions, as well as rules about whether and when parental consent is required. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other Canadian leaders condemned the U.S. Supreme Court`s decision. His administration has said it will not turn away Americans who can`t have abortions at home. But with long distances between many clinics, thin suppliers, and travel barriers at the border, it may not be a great solution. Politically, abortion spent much of the 1970s and 1980s on a parliamentary flame.
Then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau championed a number of progressive causes during his 15-year term as prime minister, but abortion was certainly not one of them. It did not appear as a major issue in any of the six federal elections between 1968 and 1988. In a 5:2 decision, the court upheld the acquittal of abortion advocate Henry Morgentaler and repealed the existing law. Morgentaler`s struggle sparked a national movement to reform Canada`s abortion laws. In 1970, as part of the abortion caravan, 35 women chained themselves to the parliamentary gallery of the House of Commons and closed Parliament for the first time in Canadian history.  The Canadian subsidiary of Planned Parenthood, now known as the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, also advocates for abortion rights and, although it refers pregnant women to abortion providers, it has no history of involvement in widespread litigation for the legalization of abortion (unlike its American counterpart).