On July 1, 2008, I became even more of a proud Canadian. This past Canada Day, Dr. Henry Morgentaler became one of several new inductees into the Order of Canada (our highest honour). I think it was long overdue.
Dr. Morgentaler has been one of the strongest voices for women’s right to choose for over 4 decades. He opened his first abortion clinic in 1969 and performed thousands of illegal procedures. His clinics were raided very often, he was arrested several times, and one clinic in Toronto was even firebombed. In 1988 however, Dr. Morgentaler won his case, and the abortion law was struck down. Here is a news article with more details about his appointment, and here is another article detailing various reactions (including Dr. Morgentaler’s).
Of course, his appointment to the Order has led to a lot of controversy. A priest in the province of British Columbia is even returning his Order of Canada in protest – not a loss at all in my honest opinion. Pro-life groups around the country have urged other Order of Canada recipients to return their medal in protest. So far, I don’t believe anyone other than the priest has done so.
Canada still has a long way to go in terms of providing abortions to every woman who wants one (some provincial governments contribute to these roadblocks), but I think Dr. Morgentaler’s appointment to our highest honour is a step in the right direction.
Congratulations Dr. Morgentaler!