An article in the NYTimes reminds us:
[He was] Canada’s most heralded and vilified abortion doctor, who was assaulted and imprisoned for defying restrictive laws but who won the landmark Canadian Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationally in 1988…
In a country known for tolerance and free medical care for all citizens, Dr. Morgentaler was for decades at the center of battles between powerful interests like the Roman Catholic Church, which opposed abortion for any reason short of saving an endangered mother’s life, and women’s groups that contended that the decision not to bear a child is a personal one.
I clearly remember a lunch hour discussion in the staff room, back when the controversy was at its most fierce. With my strict catholic upbringing, and never having been placed in a position where such a decision was necessary, I was firmly in the camp that opposed abortion.
Then a colleague shared a heart breaking story about a beautiful and talented young woman, one of her classmates at university, who became pregnant. Marriage was out of the question, and there was certainly no support for “single moms.” Desperate, this student friend attempted to abort herself, using a coat hanger, and died. My colleague began to weep… at the loss… at the waste… and we sat there in stunned silence.
I still believe that abortion is an ugly and tragic choice, but that it should be the woman’s choice. No one else should choose for her, or judge her. We can never truly know another person’s pain and fear!
Henry Morgentaler was a true social and political hero who deserves to be remembered with gratitude and respect for his fierce determination to change what many believed to be an unjust law.
The biography from The New York Times linked above will give some idea of his tremendous struggles on behalf of Canadian women. It will take only a few minutes to read!