Extract In some regions of the world, hospital policy, negotiated with the health ministry and police, requires that a doctor who finds evidence of an unskilled abortion or abortion attempt should immediately inform police authorities and preserve the evidence. Elsewhere, religious leaders forbid male doctors from examining any part of a female patient’s body other than that being directly complained about. Can a doctor invoke a conscientious commitment to medically appropriate and timely diagnosis or care and refuse to comply with such directives?
Extract The New Brunswick government is refusing to pay for abortions performed at private clinics, despite renewed warnings from Ottawa. Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh told the province it is violating the Canada Health Act . . . New Brunswick medicare only pays for abortions up to 12 weeks, performed in hospitals with the approval of 2 physicians. About 600 women a year pay up to 750 for the procedure at the Morgentaler clinic.
Extract When I was a medical student in the early ‘40s, and for a considerable time after that, the artificial termination of pregnancy was considered an unspeakable crime. . . . No one knew for certain how widespread the practice was, but enough patients turned up in emergency departments or in the morgue for us to know it was going on, and to arouse the ire and indignation of society’s moralists. . . . The credit for bringing the revolution about certainly belongs to Dr. Henry Morgentaler, but it is clear that Canada’s social climate had been changing slowly for several years before he defied the law by opening his first abortion clinic in Montreal . . . True, the anti-abortion campaign is not yet dead, but its force has become so attenuated the impact is limited.
Extract The abortion clinic that Dr. Henry Morgentaler operated on Harbord Street in Toronto was an electronic fortress bristling with hidden cameras, burglary shock sensors and motion detectors, but the security measures were of little use last May 18. At about 3:23 on that Monday morning, a security camera filmed two shadowy characters approaching the clinic’s back door. The visitors, heavily disguised, used a drill to bore through the door lock. They poured gasoline into the clinic, let it aerosolize, and then used a Roman candle to ignite the fumes. In the resulting explosion the entire front wall of the two-storey structure shuddered, buckling building supports and flinging glass, bricks and other debris into the street. Fortunately, no one was injured – the street was deserted. Six months later, Toronto police seem no closer to finding the terrorists. . . . [lengthy article].
Extract Why should an unreasonable jury have the unchecked power to make decisions against the law and the evidence? In my view the court’s power to order a new trial may be inadequate to control a perverse jury. Would justice be served by the unchecked power of juries in Eire refusing to convict IRA murderers, or of all-white juries in the southern United States refusing to convict whites of murdering blacks, or of juries in Sicily regularly discharging members of the Mafia? . . . Morgentaler, I believe, has been justly imprisoned.
Extract I believe that the statement authorized by the Board of Directors after the meeting of General Council regarding our colleague Dr. Henry Morgentaler shows professional bias and unclear thinking tempered with extreme conservatism. . . .The fact that anyone, for whatever charge, can be acquitted twice by a jury and still be in jail is hard to comprehend. The fact that the appeal courts overturned the jury’s verdict and passed sentence without ordering a new trial is a threat to everyone’s liberty.
Extract The appearance of the two letters on abortion in sequence in the Journal . . . illustrated the diverging ethics of the members and future members of our profession. Reading the letter by Dr. Heine was indeed like feeling a breath of fresh unpolluted air in the smog of today’s confused thinking. . . .How different was the letter by the President of the Medical Students’ Society of McGill University stating the unanimous opinion of their Executive Council.