NAF Mourns the Loss of Dr. Henry Morgentaler
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
202.667.5881; 202.595.4395 (after hours/cell)
Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) and NAF Canada:
Today we mourn the passing of long-time NAF member Dr. Henry Morgentaler. Dr. Morgentaler was a legend, a hero, and a national treasure in both our countries, and we will miss him dearly. Our condolences go out to his family and friends during this very sad time.
We join with our members in remembering and honoring Dr. Morgentaler’s life and his unparalleled contributions to women’s reproductive health care. Dr. Morgentaler defied the Canadian criminal code by founding the first free standing abortion clinic in Canada in Montreal in 1969. For the next 20 years, he challenged the law and even served prison time for providing women with safe abortion care. His work changed the legal landscape in Canada, and eventually led to the 1988 landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision that gave women the right to obtain abortion care. When Canada’s top Charter experts compiled a list of the most important and influential Charter cases, not surprisingly R. v. Morgentaler was included.
Canadian women owe Dr. Morgentaler a tremendous debt of gratitude for standing up for their lives and health at great personal sacrifice and risk. He survived numerous threats on his life, a clinic bombing, and aggressive protests. Yet, he was not deterred. Even in the last years of his life, Dr. Morgentaler continued to provide leadership in struggles to ensure that women have access to publicly funded abortion care.
Dr. Morgentaler created a lasting legacy by providing training opportunities for students and physicians, to ensure that future generations of medical professionals are able to provide quality abortion care. He believed that his work made the world “a kinder, gentler place for women in Canada because they have the right to make choices.” And our community was a kinder, gentler place because Dr. Morgentaler was part of it. He was an unsurpassed leader in our movement and I am honoured to have called him my friend.
Understandably, Dr. Morgentaler was the recipient of numerous awards during his life, including the Order of Canada and NAF’s highest honour, the Christopher Tietze Humanitarian Award. The Tietze Award honours significant, lifetime contributions in the field of abortion care or policy. NAF also presented a special award to Dr. Morgentaler in 2007, honouring him as a “national treasure.”
Dr. Morgentaler’s death is a tremendous loss to our community, and his life remains an inspiration to all of us who want to make the world a better place. No one has done more to protect the lives and health of women in Canada. There will never be another Dr. Henry Morgentaler.
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. Our members include clinics, hospitals and physicians who together care for more than 80 percent of the women who choose abortion in Canada each year. NAF Canada works to ensure that abortion care is safe, legal, and accessible.