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Ongoing Challenges to Abortion


Attempts to Recriminalize Abortion

R. v. Morgentaler created a legal void for abortion in Canada. Bill C-43, An Act Respecting Abortion, introduced by the Progressive Conservative Party, attempted to re-establish legal boundaries for abortion in Canada. The Bill sought to criminalize all abortions that were non-life threatening or did not pose a major threat to a woman’s physical or mental health. Women would have also required approval from a medical practitioner, effectively removing a woman’s freedom to decide. The Bill was passed in the House of Commons but narrowly defeated in the Senate. Attempted bills regulating abortion and the rights of the unborn continue to figure prominently in parliament to this day. In addition to continued political pressures, regional healthcare disparities, access to education and funding issues continue to serve as barriers to reproductive rights in Canada.


“287. (1) Every person who induces an abortion on a female person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, unless the abortion is induced by or under the direction of a medical practitioner who is of the opinion that, if the abortion were not induced, the health or life of the female person would likely to be threatened."

Bill C-43, An Act Respecting Abortion, as 
passed May 29 1990, (34th Parl., 2nd sess.)

“The Bill restricts a pregnant woman’s autonomy in decisionmaking in two ways. First, it establishes criteria that limits access to abortion. Second, it subjects the right to obtain an abortion to the consent of a third party… The state raises a right of veto against the woman’s decision by enacting criteria restricting her right to abortion at every stage of the pregnancy. The mere fact that criteria are imposed infringes the woman’s right to make her own decisions in the context with which she is concerned.”

Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of
Women. Brief Submitted to the Legislative
Committee on Bill C-43, 1990, 32-33.
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Demonstrators carrying placards protest against the reopening of Dr. Henry Morgentaler's Harbord Street abortion clinic. Three pregnancies were terminated yesterday morning. 

Ongoing Challenges to Abortion