Jan. 28, 1988, the day the Supreme Court declared Canada’s long-standing abortion law unconstitutional, was the greatest day in Dr. Morgentaler’s life. For the next 20 years, on the anniversary of the ruling, he held a dinner for key supporters in the struggle. “It was a vindication of everything I believed in,” he said. “For the first time, it gave women the status of full human beings able to make decisions about their own lives.”
Perhaps the second greatest day in his life was Oct. 10, 2008. That was the day when Governor-General Michaëlle Jean pinned the Order of Canada on his chest in a ceremony at the Citadel in Quebec City, while protesters marched outside. His inclusion as a member, the lowest of three ranks, in our highest civilian order, had been hotly debated for years: One side denounced him as a murderer; the other praised him as a hero. Several members of the Order, including Roman Catholic Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, returned their medals in protest against Dr. Morgentaler’s appointment.
“I am honoured to receive the Order of Canada today,” Dr. Morgentaler said in a brief statement after the ceremony. “Canada is one of the few places in the world where freedom of speech and choice prevail in a truly democratic fashion. I’m proud to have been given this opportunity, coming from a war-torn Europe, to realize my potential and my dream, to create a better and more humane society.”
Also interesting: Conservatives quiet, other parties react to death of Doctor Henry Morgentaler. Is this a gag order? Or is it just political expediency! Harper opposed Morgentaler’s nomination to the order and perhaps he is still angry about it.