Dr. Henry Morentaler performed his first illegal abortion in Montreal in 1968 (Rebick, 48). He is an interesting person in history because he is a man fighting for women’s rights. He is supportive of women’s right to choose and reproductive rights. He performed illegal abortions because he felt hypocritical turning away women who asked for the procedure (Rebick, 48) after he had expressed his support to free and legal abortions.
He was passionate about what he believed in and was willing to go to prison multiple times for the fight for legal abortions. In 1969 Dr. Henry Morgentaler defied section 251 of the Criminal Code by performing abortions in his clinic in Quebec. In 1970, Morgentaler’s office is raided by the police and he is charged with conspiracy to perform an abortion. He is charged ten times between 1971-73. In 1973 he is acquited by a jury but the Quebec Court of Appeal overturns the jury verdict in 1974. The Supreme Court upholds the Quebec Court’s conviction in 1975 and Dr. Morgentaler is sentenced to eighteen months in prison. While serving his sentence Dr. Morgentaler suffers a heart attack and is freed after serving 10 months. In 1975 the Morgentaler Amendment was made to the Criminal Code of Canada. This amendment was done under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and changed the law so a court could not overturn a jury acquittal but could order a new trial
The abortion law had been fought by many people and in many ways and although Dr. Morgentaler is not the soul reason the abortion law was changed he was a very important part of this fight. His abortion clinics are still open to this day.