Dr. Henry Morgentaler is a Canadian physician, a prominent pro-choice advocate, and a longtime NAF member.
Dr. Morgentaler challenged the Canadian criminal code by founding the first freestanding abortion clinic in Canada. He was tried and jailed for providing safe abortion care to women. His challenges eventually led to the 1988 landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision that gave women the right to obtain abortion care. When Canada's top Charter experts compiled a list of the most important and influential Charter cases, not surprisingly R. v. Morgentaler was included.
Since then, Dr. Morgentaler has worked to increase women's access to quality abortion care in Canada. He has survived numerous threats on his life, a clinic bombing, and constant protests.
Dr. Morgentaler has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years, including NAF's highest honour, the Christopher Tietze Humanitarian Award. The Tietze Award honours significant, lifetime contributions in the field of abortion care or policy. In 2007, NAF also presented a special award to Dr. Morgentaler honouring him as a "national treasure" to both Canada and the United States. In 2008, Dr. Morgentaler was appointed to the Order of Canada.
Keynote Address delivered by Dr. Henry Morgentaler at the 20th Anniversary of R v. Morgentaler Symposium January 28, 2008.
This is a truly momentous occasion. I am happy to be among so many people who have taken the time to mark a very special day. It has been twenty years since a historic Supreme Court decision profoundly changed the lives of women in Canada. The Morgentaler decision by the Supreme Court of Canada of 1988 is an important milestone in the emancipation of Canadian women. This is a proud moment not only for me but for all those people who have played such an important role in this movement.
In 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that women have the right to make choices concerning their own reproductive health. I am proud to have played such a pivotal role in that decision. I also believe that the world is a kinder, gentler place for women in Canada because they do have the right to make choices.