Abortion in Canada Timeline


Abortion in Canada Timeline

1969 – The Criminal Code is amended to decriminalize  abortions done by a doctor in a hospital after approval for the procedure has  been given by a “therapeutic abortion committee” who judged that a woman’s life  or health “would” or “would be likely” to be affected by continuation of pregnancy.  No obligation for either doctors or hospitals  to participate in abortion. Within a couple of years, abortions are covered  under the publicly funded health care system even though government ministers  had reassured opponents it would not be.

1973-74 – Henry Morgentaler sets up an abortion clinic in Montreal  contrary to law.  He is arrested,  charged, found innocent, decision appealed, found guilty.  This happens three times.  Finally the Quebec  government stops charging him and he continues to do abortions in Montreal.

1975 – A petition of over 1 million signatures, the largest  in Canadian history, is presented to parliament requesting protection for the  life of the unborn.

1975 – Joe Borowski, former NDP Minister of Highways in Manitoba,  launches a court case asking that the 1969 amendments to the Criminal Code be  declared invalid, and declaring that the outlay of public money for abortion is  unlawful because it contravenes the Canadian Bill of Rights.

1981 – The province   of Quebec sets up Abortion Clinics  as part of its community health services.   These CLSC’s operate outside Canadian law but with the financial backing  of the government of Quebec.

1982 – Henry Morgentaler announces plans to establish a free  standing abortion clinic in Winnipeg.  Shortly thereafter he opens one in Toronto.  In Manitoba,  the College of Physicians & Surgeons refuses to license the facility.
1983 – Morgentaler is charged with illegal abortion, along  with abortionists Dr. Leslie Smoling and Dr. Robert Scott.  Morgentaler and Scott are also charged in Winnipeg.

1985 – The Ontario  jury acquits the abortionists after accepting Morgentaler’s use of the defense  of necessity.  The Ontario Court of  Appeal reverses the decision.   Morgentaler asks the Supreme Court to hear the case.

1986 – Eighteen year old Erin Shannon dies at Ottawa   Civic Hospital  following a “legal” abortion.

1986 – Roussel Uclaf, manufacturer and distributor of RU-486  signs an agreement with the World Health Organization at the Population Council  making RU-486 available to these agencies worldwide.

1988 – The Supreme Court of Canada in a split decision  strikes down Section 251 of the Criminal Code; declaring it  unconstitutional.  Provinces respond by  setting up their own regulations on the performance of abortion.  In Manitoba where the Morgentaler case was in  abeyance pending the Supreme Court decision, the government now permits  abortions outside of hospitals but refuses to pay for abortions from public  funds.  Morgentaler announces a five year  plan to open clinics in all provinces.

1988 – The Borowski case which had been going to court  parallel with Morgentaler’s is declared moot since the law on abortion no  longer exists.

1989 – Various proposals are made to draft a new abortion  law.  One submitted by Gus Mitges MP,  which would have prevented all abortions, comes closest to passing.  In the end no proposal receives majority  support.

1989 – Barbara Dodd in Toronto  and Chantal Daigle in Quebec go  to court to try to get abortions after their boyfriends got injunctions to  prevent them from doing so.  Dodds gets  the OK from the Supreme Court of Ontario, aborts, then regrets her decision.  Daigle is refused by Quebec’s  Superior Court, goes to Supreme Court and is given the go ahead even though she  has already had an abortion in the U.S.  Now no father can prevent abortion of his  child.

1989 – A new abortion law, Bill C-43, is presented in the  House of Commons.  It passes May 29, 1990 and is sent to Senate  for debate.  Bill C-43 retains abortion  as a criminal offence but permits it on very broad grounds.

1990 – Morgentaler opens an abortion clinic in Newfoundland

1990 – A court in Cambridge  upholds an injunction prohibiting individuals from Cambridge  Pro-Life from coming with 50 feet of the abortionists’ office.  Drs. Assad and Chan drop a second part of the  suit as claim for lost business.

1991 – The Senate defeats Bill C-43 in a tie vote.

1991 – The Supreme Court rules that a child in the process  of being born was not “person” (even though the head was outside the mother’s  body).  Therefore, two midwives Sullivan  and Lemay could not be found negligent in causing the  death of the child whose mother they were attending.  This confirms that unborn babies do not have  legal rights unless they are born alive.   (cc. Sec. 206)

1991 – Doctors at the Victoria   Hospital in Halifax  begin fetal tissue transplants after great objection from general public.

1991 – Life Chains begin in parts of Canada

1991 – Etienne Beulieu, the inventor of RU-486 tells CARAL  that trial of the abortion pill will soon begin in Canada.

1991 – Saskatchewan’s  College of Physicians & Surgeons recommends that abortions be done outside  of hospitals. The Saskatchewan Minister of Health disagrees.

1991– The Supreme Court unanimously rules that it is  constitutionally permissible for unions to use compulsory dues to finance  causes which may be opposed by workers who pay those dues.  College teacher Mervyn Levinge had objected  his union’s support of the NDP and pro abortion causes.

1991 – Nineteen year old Myrna George of BC dies as a result  of abortion.

1991 – Morgentaler opens abortion clinic in Edmonton.

1991 – A plebiscite held during a provincial election in Saskatchewan  resulted in 62% of electors saying NO to the question, “Should the government  pay for abortion procedures.”  The  results are not binding on the government.

1991 – The Federal Court of Appeal rules that Everywoman’s  Health Centre, an abortion facility, is a registered charity and can issue tax  receipts for donations.

1991 – Morgentaler and Theodore Busheikin open an abortion  clinic in Calgary.

1991 – Nova Scotia  government appeals to the Supreme Court to reverse two lower court decisions  which acquitted Morgentaler of illegally performing abortions in his unlicensed  Halifax abortion centre.

1991 – Quebec’s  Civil code is revised to allow girls 14 years old to have an abortion without  parental knowledge or consent.

1992 – Explosion and fire at Morgentaler’s Harbord    Street abortion clinic destroys the building.  This leads to unsubstantiated blame on the  pro-life people and increased financial support by the Ontario  government to Morgentaler.

1992 – Ontario NDP Government initiates an injunction  against pro-life picketers near hospitals and abortion clinics.  Freedom of speech is thereby limited.

1992 – The BC Court of Appeal upholds $3.5 million award to  Jody Cherry after the failed abortion of her child.  The abortionist “missed” aborting the baby  girl then failed to detect the continuation of pregnancy.  The baby was born at 32 weeks and has  cerebral palsy.

1993 – In Ontario  a blanket injunction against demonstrations, picketing etc. is sought by  Ontario Attorney General Marion Boyd to prevent any activity within 500 feet of  23 abortion-related centres.  Damages are  sought against 18 named pro-lifers for having engaged in lawful activities such  as sidewalk counseling around abortion clinics.

1993 – In Prince Edward Island,  Morgentaler files suit to get payment for clinic abortions and claims PEI’s  payment policy is discriminatory.

1993 – The Manitoba Court of Appeal rules 3-2 that a  regulation by the Health Services Commission stating that abortion is not an  insured service unless performed in an approved hospital is insufficient  authority to prevent payment for abortions in Morgentaler’s facility. The Manitoba  government promptly passes legislation to ensure no payments for abortions at  Morgentaler Clinic.

1993 – The parents and boyfriend of Karine Rivard (mother of  a 6 month old boy), who dies after an abortion at the University of Sherbrooke  (QC) clinic, launch a civil suit against the facility.  She died of severe allergic reaction which  caused her to choke to death.  Proper  equipment was not available at the out-of-hospital facility.

1994 – Dr. Ellen Wiebe of Everywoman’s Health Centre  recruits pregnant women to participate in clinical trials of medical abortions  using methotrexate and misoprostol, both drugs commonly used for other  purposes.

1994 – Morgentaler opens abortion clinic in Fredericton,   NB.

1994 – NDP Attorney General of Ontario,  Marion Boyd is granted an interim injunction which prohibits pro-life  demonstrations and picketing closer than 500 feet from the homes of  abortionists.  Protesters must stay 30 –  60 feet away from entrances to abortion clinics.  The use of signs is allowed despite the  Attorney General’s request that they be banned.

1994 – BC abortionist, Garson Romalis, is shot in the leg at  his home.  Despite the lack of evidence  from police that the shooting is linked to abortion, the media refers to this  shooting as “abortion-related.”

1995 – Morgentaler’s challenge to PEI’s  policy of funding only “medically necessary” abortions is successful.  The judge rules that abortion is a basic  health service and must therefore be included in the government’s health  funding.  The PEI  government appeals.

1995 – In Alberta  the Committee to End Tax Funded Abortion (CETFA) releases results of a poll  showing 71% of Alberta taxpayers  believe abortion should not be funded with tax dollars.  The Committee argues against government  funding of a non-essential service.

1995 – BC’s NDP government set up a “bubble zone” around  abortion clinics which forbids leafleting, sidewalk counseling or any attempt  to dissuade people from performing or submitting to abortion.  The bubble zone, it is argued, infringes  people’s freedom of expression.

1995 – Dr. Hugh Short, abortionist, is shot in the arm at  his home near Hamilton.

1996 – The BC “bubble zone” law is greatly circumscribed  when BC Provincial Judge E.J. Cronin dismisses charges against Maurice Lewis  who had prayed and worn a sandwich board (asking God’s protection for the  unborn) inside the bubble zone.   Activists in other areas, Toronto,  Calgary, Edmonton  and Montreal decide to challenge  the “bubble zones” in their areas, but are not successful.

1996 – Brenda Drummond, 28, is charged with attempted murder  after she shot her nearly full term son with a pellet gun while he was still in  utero.  Jonathan was born 2 days later,  was treated in intensive care and survived.

1996 – A Winnipeg  woman, five months pregnant and abusing solvents, is ordered by Judge Perry  Schulman into treatment to protect her unborn child after Child & Family  Services and the woman’s family applied to the Courts for an order.  The case is overturned on appeal. Winnipeg  Child & Family Services launches an appeal to the Supreme Court.

1996 – BC Supreme Court Judge Mary Saunders overturns an  earlier court ruling on BC “bubble zones” and the case of Maurice Lewis.  Access to abortion is deemed to take  precedence over freedom of expression.

1996 – Judge Inger Hansen rules on the Drummond case.  Brenda Drummond is acquitted of attempted  murder of baby Jonathan, because, according to law, a baby is not a legal “person”  worthy of legal protection until it is born.

1997 – Dr. Jack Fainman, a Winnipeg  gynecologist and obstetrician who performs abortions, is shot in the right  shoulder through the back window of his home. Police believe the shooting is  linked to the shootings of Drs. Hugh Short and Garson Romalis as they all occurred  near Remembrance Day.
1998 – Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Douglas MacLellan  awards Wanda MacPhail $724,547. MacPhail blacked out and collided with another  vehicle after she drove home after having an abortion in March 1993. MacLellan  concluded that MacPhail had “a severe emotional reaction” to the abortion.

1999 – After a six-year battle, nurses at Markham   Stouffville Hospital  reach an agreement with their employer allowing them the right to decline  assisting doctors performing abortions.

1999 – Nurses at Calgary’s  Foothills Hospital  complain about late abortions in which babies are born alive and left to die.  They specifically mention one 35 week baby who lived for 12 hours. Hospital  officials initially deny the accusation but in late summer admit that the case  did occur. Calgary police find no evidence  of criminal wrongdoing without interviewing any nurses. Alberta College of  Physicians and Surgeons initiate investigation and amend the Pregnancy  Termination guidelines for late abortions to say “patient and physician may  consider feticide prior to initiating the termination procedure. Feticide may  be done by intracardiac injection of  KCl  into the fetus in utero.”

1999 – Preven, a morning after pill, is approved by Health Canada  for sale to the Canadian public.

2000 – Rebecca Davis launches a $100-million dollar lawsuit  against the province of Ontario claiming she was forced to undergo an unwanted  and illegal abortion while a resident of the Grandview School for Girls in  1976. The suit also claims Henderson General   Hospital in Hamilton  was negligent in aborting her fetus because she was considered healthy and  there was no risk to the baby.

2000 – Clinical trials on the RU-486 “abortion pill” begin  in British Columbia under a  shroud of secrecy. The public isn’t notified until late July.

2000 – Police warn doctors who perform abortions to go on  “high alert” after Dr. Garson Romalis is stabbed outside his clinic. It is the  second attempt on his life.  Pro-abortion  politicians and advocates call for amendments to the Canadian Criminal Code to  classify attacks on abortion providers as a “hate crime.”
2000 – The B.C. government allows for morning-after pills to  be available in that province without a prescription.

2001 – The Hull Region Women’s Clinic, a Quebec  abortion clinic, withdraws its legal action against the pro-life group Respect  de la Vie Outaouais. The clinic was contesting a pamphlet by RVO noting that  one in 25 women “are hospitalized up to 7 days after legally induced abortion  in Canada.” The  clinic claimed “irreparable damages” caused to its business by the RVO  pamphlet. The statistics RVO used came from Statistics Canada.

2001 – Federal Health Minister Allan Rock threatens to fine  the province of New    Brunswick under the Canada Health Act if they do  not pay for abortions in private clinics.
2001 – A Canadian woman dies during testing of the abortion pill  RU-486. A Health Canada official states that information on adverse reactions  to drugs in clinical trials is not public information even when a death is  involved.

2001 – In a submission to the House of Commons Finance  Committee, Canadian Abortion Rights Action League Executive Director Marilyn  Wilson says that women who seek abortions: “…do so for socio economic  reasons. Sometimes it is a desire to complete their education and become  financially independent. In many cases, couples with children wish to restrict  their family size in order to provide adequate financial support. Often,  choosing abortion is a conscious decision not to become a socio-economic burden  on society.”

2001 – Quebec  announces that pharmacists may dispense the abortifacient ‘morning-after pill’  without prescription.

2002 – Liberal, N.D.P. and Bloc MPs refused consent in the  House of Commons to accept a motion from Canadian Alliance MP Garry Breitkreuz  to protect unborn children. A year earlier, Breitkreuz tried to convince the  House of the need to modify the definition of “human being” in the Criminal  Code, which he calls “scientifically incorrect.”

2002 – The South East Health Authority in Moncton,  N.B., says that after December   31, 2002, it would not perform elective abortions. The Authority  explained that specialists at the hospital made a joint decision to stop based  on frequent no-shows which waste already limited operating time.

2002 – B.C pro-lifer Jim Demers loses his challenge of the  provincial bubble zone legislation at the B.C. Court of Appeal. Demers argued  that the bubble zone infringed on his right to freedom of speech under the  Charter.
2005 – Winnipeg  judge Jeffrey Oliphant ruled that the failure to pay for private clinic  abortions was a “gross violation” of women’s rights. The decision was  overturned in 2006 by the province’s Court of Appeal because the judge had not  heard any evidence on the issues involved. An appeal to the Supreme Court of  Canada was refused. The provincial government had already begun paying for all  abortions in 2004 but not as a result of the court case.

2006 – A Quebec  judge ordered the province to pay the full costs of private clinic abortions.  The province had been covering a portion of these costs. The provincial  government complied without appealing the decision.

2006 – Alberta MP Leon Benoit introduces a Private Members’  Bill C-291, to make it a separate crime to injure or kill a fetus in the course  of an attack on the mother. The bill is declared unvotable after Justice  Minister Vic Toews declares it to be unconstitutional because it does not  include an exemption for abortion.
2006 – Ontario MP Paul Steckle introduces Private Members’  Bill C-338, which would amend the Criminal Code to make it illegal to perform  an abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation. The bill has not yet received second  reading or debate in the House of Commons.

2007 – Alberta MP Ken Epp introduces Private Members’ Bill  C-484 that would amend the Criminal Code making it a separate crime to injure  or kill a fetus in the course of a violent attack on the mother. The bill  includes an exemption for women who consent to abortion. The bill is declared  votable and is debated for one hour in the House of Commons.

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