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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Morgentaler Decision

The 25th anniversary of the Morgentaler Decision is almost upon us, and the tributes are beginning to surface. I want to share a few with you. Have a look at the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada's tribute to Dr. Morgentaler and leave a message if you are so inspired. Joyce Arthur of ARCC has also written some great stuff lately on the benefits of decriminalization.

When I am thinking about Dr. Morgentaler or writing about him, I often refer to an excellent biography about him by Catherine Dunphy called Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero. To me, it is the definitive text. And I was reminded this morning of a great interview with Dr. Morgentaler with the National Review of Medicine that he did on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the decision available on line.

There are tributes happening across Canada. In Calgary, there is a showing of the new documentary Status Quo? to celebrate the decision. Although the doc deals with issues beyond reproductive rights and gets us to think about all the unfinished business of feminism in Canada, it is a good choice for this day. One section of the film is dedicated to Dr. Morgentaler and the current day fight in New Brunswick, which has been the subject of this blog before. One of my favourite moments in the film is footage of Judy Rebick getting in the face of someone attempting to attack Dr. Morgentaler. She is absolutely fierce, and it is this ferocity that was necessary to have abortion decriminalized.

Many people like Judy Rebick stood with Dr. Morgentaler to change the laws in Canada. He didn't do it alone, but he was the face of the movement, the one that risked it all, the one that went to jail. He risked his own safety to keep women safe. To understand exactly what he accomplished, the best thing to do is actually read the Supreme Court verdict. It is inspiring.

My postings are getting fewer and farther between lately. I often feel I've said everything I have to say about abortion. With the temporary quiet given to us by election losses on the far right, I've not been prodded into blogging by idiotic relics of patriarchy blathering about taking my rights away. The anniversary will bring out the anti-choicers and their whines of "we need a law." Actually, we don't. Canada's experience has proven this. Nevertheless, attempts to eat away at women's rights will continue with things like Motion 408, which has to be at least the forty fifth attempt by anti-choicers to criminalize or restrict abortion since the Morgentaler decision. They've lost every battle, and they will continue to do so because women are not going to give up our rights. Unlike me, they never seem to get bored. So I can't either. And neither can you. I've said it so many times, I almost feel I have to quote myself. Without control of our bodies, women are not free.

And to Dr. Morgentaler: You showed me the way before I even knew I was searching for it, before I knew how to challenge power or speak truth to it, before I found my own voice. You showed me what my rights were. You imagined a reality for me that I couldn't yet see for myself and you fought to get it for me. You taught me what it was to be feminist. Thank you.

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