We are extremely pleased that Dr. Henry Morgentaler has been awarded the Order of Canada. Dr. Morgentaler exemplifies the ideals and principles of the Order of Canada with his lifetime commitment to women’s reproductive freedom. Canadians owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for standing up for women’s lives and health at great personal sacrifice and risk.
Dr. Morgentaler, a survivor of the Holocaust, has made a positive lasting impact on the lives and health of Canadian women for more than 40 years as a physician and advocate. He came forward publicly in 1967 and testified that women should have access to safe and legal abortion care at a time when abortion was illegal and countless women were sacrificing their lives and health to end an unplanned pregnancy. In 1988, Dr. Morgentaler won a significant victory for Canadian women in the Supreme Court of Canada in R v. Morgentaler, the ruling that decriminalized abortion in Canada. This landmark decision changed the legal landscape in Canada, and was named one of the most important and influential Charter cases of the last 25 years.
Dr. Morgentaler’s determination and tireless efforts on behalf of women have never ceased. He has survived numerous threats on his life, a clinic bombing, prison, and constant harassment by protesters. Despite challenges and obstacles, Dr. Morgentaler has persevered, and he continues to provide leadership in the current struggle to ensure that women have access to funded abortion care.
Throughout his career, Dr. Morgentaler has received numerous awards, including an honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario and a scholarship named in his honour by the Canadian Federation of Sexual Health. The National Abortion Federation (NAF), the professional association of abortion providers in Canada and United States, has awarded Dr. Morgentaler its highest honour, the Christopher Tietze Humanitarian Award, as well as a special award designating him a National Treasure.