View Single Post
Old 05-18-2019, 09:03 AM
Northern Piper is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: The snow is gone. For now
Posts: 29,380
I would slightly qualify Hari Seldon's summary of the history of the abortion issue in Canada. There were two separate rounds of litigation, followed by failed legislative efforts.

In the first round, in the 1970s, Dr Morgentaler was acquitted by a series of juries in Quebec. That was the basis for the case where the appellate courts imposed a conviction. The Attorney General of Quebec eventually announced that there would be no further prosecutions, as the pattern of jury acquittals showed that there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction.

The second round was in Ontario in the 1980s. Dr Morgentaler opened a clinic in Ontario. He was charged by the Ontario authorities but again acquitted by a jury. That case went on appeal to the Supreme Court, which struck down the Criminal Code abortion law under the Charter. The Court didn't establish that abortion laws per se were unconstitutional, only that the particular law in issue was in breach of the Charter.

The Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney then moved to pass a new abortion law. The first attempt was defeated in the Commons on a free vote. Opponents of abortion thought the proposed law was too permissive, while pro choice MPs thought it was too restrictive. Both groups voted against the bill, and it was defeated.

Mulroney's government tried again a year later with another bill. This bill passed the Commons in a free vote. It then went to the Senate, which also held a free vote (and party discipline is generally a bit weaker in the Senate anyway).

The Senate vote was a tie, somewhat to everyone's surprise. Under the rules of the Senate, there's no tie-breaking procedure. If a matter goes to a tie, that means it has failed to pass. The bill was thus defeated in the Senate.

After that, Mulroney said he was done with the issue. He'd tried twice to pass a bill and failed. He concluded that there simply wasn't political appetite for it, and moved on to other vote-getters, like instituting a new tax.

That was around 1991. Since then, no federal government has introduced any bills to regulate or prohibit abortion. Abortion is now the same as any other health or medical procedure.
"I don't like to make plans for the day. If I do, that's when words like 'premeditated' start getting thrown around in the courtroom."