OTTAWA, February 20, 2008 – (CCRL)  – Earlier this month, The Globe and Mail reported that some Canadian abortion activists were stepping up efforts to have Dr. Morgentaler awarded Canada’s highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada, for his years of advocacy for legalizing abortion and for the thousands of abortions that he personally has performed.

In a piece appearing in the Globe, several of Canada’s most prominent abortion advocates proposed a public campaign to have Dr. Morgentaler awarded the Order of Canada. They said that the matter was especially urgent now that he is ill and not expected to live much longer. The prestigious award is not granted posthumously.

But today, a media release from the office of the Governor General, who is responsible for granting the award, showed that Dr. Morgentaler is not included on the list for this year.

More than any other single person, Dr. Henry Morgentaler is responsible for the current Canadian legal situation, in which there is no law restricting or regulating abortion. Morgentaler’s decades of campaigning for abortion resulted in the criminal code statute prohibiting abortion being struck down by the Supreme Court in 1988. Since then Canada has been left in a state of lawlessness, in which abortion is effectively legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

Jakki Jeffs, the head of Guelph Area Right to Life Association, told today that she contacted the Governor General’s office and was told that the office that oversees the Order of Canada “had a file” about Dr. Morgentaler and that he had been nominated several times. Mrs. Jeffs pointed out that although this does not mean that Dr. Morgentaler will be granted the award next year, it is nevertheless important for pro-life Canadians to let their opinions be heard. 

In June, 2005 the University of Western Ontario conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree upon Morgentaler despite protests led by the League and including students, faculty members and others. Twelve thousand signed a petition asking the UWO to reverse its decision. Peaceful protesters gathered on campus on convocation day. Though the award went ahead, the decision cost the school thousands in reconsidered donations.

Pro-life organizations are not the only groups in Canada to have qualms about Dr. Morgentaler’s work. In his testimony before the Professional Corporation of Physicians of Quebec, Morgentaler admitted to having committed at least 7,000 abortions himself. However, in a 1976 investigation into his work, that organization suspended Morgentaler’s medical licence for a year, stressing that the reason was not only that abortion was illegal but also due to concerns about unprofessional conduct. 

Morgentaler was cited “for not holding a valid interview before the abortion, for failing almost completely to gather a case history of his client, for failing to perform the necessary pregnancy test or blood test, for not obtaining pathological examination of the ’tissues’ removed and for failing to follow up the state of health of his patients afterward.”

The panel also declared that Morgentaler’s behaviour reflected “an attitude which is primarily directed to protecting his fees.” Morgentaler currently operates six private for-profit facilities across Canada. In 2002 the paper Le Droit revealed his gross annual revenue to be $11 million from his abortion practices.

The 1976 ruling from the disciplinary medical board said his practice was one which “confers a mercenary character on the doctor-patient relationship,” and said it was “incapable of reconciling [Morgentaler’s] behaviour with the humanitarian concern that [he] invoked throughout his defence.”

The Order of Canada, given on behalf of the Crown by the Queen’s representative, the Governor General, is intended to recognize Canadians who have made lifelong commitments to bettering Canadian society. This year, the new members include Al Davidson, who worked promoting nature conservation, Flora Dell, who worked to improve the health of older Canadians, and Terrence Gillespie, who dedicated his career to improving the health and well-being of children suffering from cystic fibrosis.
                                                                                                  – with a report from

To Contact the offices overseeing the Order of Canada:
The Governor General of Canada
Attention: The Chancellery of Honours
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1

Phone: (613) 993-8200
or toll-free in Canada and the United States at:
1 800 465-6890
Fax: (613) 998-8760