Chronology of Laws

Chronology of Worldwide Abortion

The first country in the world to legalize abortion was Russia in 1921 shortly after the atheist, communist revolution of 1917. As Russia conquered its eastern European neighbours, these ‘communist block’ countries behind the iron curtain legalized abortion through the 1920’s and 1930’s. This first wave of abortion expansion was halted for a period of years after communist dictator Josef Stalin made it illegal, not due to any moral reason, but solely because he realized that abortion was threatening the Soviet Union’s future supply of soldiers. Then in the 1950’s a second massive wave of abortion expansion occurred when Russian dictator Krushiev re-instated abortion and spread it to all the countries under Russian influence in Eastern Europe. For instance, Catholic Poland was forced to legalize abortion in 1956 because of communism at that time.

The first so-called democratic country to legalize abortion was England in 1967. From there, a domino effect occurred amongst the non-communist countries of the West with one country’s laws creating a political climate for change in the next. Canada legalized abortion in 1969 with Trudeau’s omnibus bill. America legalized it in 1973. Proceeding rapidly throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, literally every democratic country in western Europe has legalized abortion with the exception of Malta and Ireland. Today there are 50 million abortions committed annually throughout the world.

While abortion was imposed in eastern Europe by atheist, anti-Christian communist dictators, it took root in western nations following the widespread acceptance of pornography and contraception. The contraceptive mentality is such that it divorces the idea of pregnancy and childbearing from the sexual act. It makes sex something you can do casually without consequences - like going to a movie, a lunch date or playing tennis. The contraceptive mentality fuels the idea that pregnancy is a ‘problem’ to be avoided and thus, when contraception fails, abortion becomes the logical ‘solution’. Despite the widespread belief that ‘good contraception’ helps reduce abortions, the direct opposite is true. The contraceptive mentality encourages promiscuity and pre-marital sex and thus creates a "demand" for abortion when these behaviors inevitably increase the number of crisis pregnancies.

 

Milestones in Canadian history affecting sanctity of life, family & faith

The passage of the Omnibus Bill on May 14, 1969 did not happen in a vacuum. In Canada the way had been prepared by a decade of concerted efforts by professional organizations, some left-wing religious groups and the media, to liberalize the laws on marriage/divorce, homosexuality, and abortion. Here is a brief overview of the key milestones leading up to 1969 and the aftermath with which Canadians have had to contend.

Year Milestone  

1892

Canada’s Parliament enacts the first Criminal Code, which prohibited abortion as well as the sale, distribution and advertisements of contraception.

 

1955

The law is clarified in a way so there was no doubt that abortion was prohibited even in cases to save the life of the mother.

 

1959

Chatelaine magazine is the first major publication to advocate changes to Canada’s abortion law when in its August edition author Joan Finnigan pens an article entitled "Should Canada change its abortion law?"

 

1961

The Globe and Mail and the United Church Observer become proponents of change in the abortion law, with the former running editorials calling for an amendment to the Criminal Code.

 

1963

Two major professional organizations, the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Medical Association begin to agitate for a widening of the law to permit what they claimed was going on anyway in many hospitals: illegal abortions carried out to save the life or protect the health of the mother.


The CMA initiates a special committee to examine sterilization and therapeutic abortion. Ontario’s attorney-general, Arthur Wishart, has a policy of not prosecuting abortionists, setting the stage for "the selective enforcement of the law" in the province.

1963-64

The United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada begin to soften their opposition to abortion, favouring exceptions for the life and health of the mother. Soon after, the United Church officially supported abortion without reservation.

 

1965

Some Canadian politicians are openly discussing liberalizing the divorce and contraception laws, which like abortion were part of the Criminal Code.

 

1966

Lester Pearson’s Liberal minority government moves discussion of divorce, contraception and abortion to a standing committee of the House of Commons

1966

Toronto Liberal MP Ian Wahn introduces a two-part private member’s bill liberalizing abortion and contraception.

 

1966

Stephen Lewis, an NDP member of the Ontario provincial parliament, introduces a bill to liberalize abortion law, although it dies on the order paper in 1967.

 

1967

The CMA endorses changing the Criminal Code to allow abortion to protect the life and health of the mother and in cases of rape and incest.


Abortion supporters concoct numbers of women who die from illegal, ‘unsafe’ abortions. The fabricated numbers galvanize politicians, professional organizations and segments of the media. Maclean’s magazine jumps aboard the pro-abortion media wagon.


Feminist groups begin claiming that abortion is a matter of choice, casting the fight for abortion as part of the women’s liberation movement. The Globe and Mail begins articulating a concept of abortion as a right.


Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who calls himself a Catholic, is named Pearson’s justice minister in April. Then in May, the Pearson government, during the Speech from the Throne, commits itself to liberalize divorce laws, but makes no mention of abortion.


In October, hearings on the latter topic begins in the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare with discussion of NDP MP Grace MacInnis’s private member’s bill permitting abortion to protect the life and health of the mother, in cases of rape and incest and when there was the possibility of a "defective" child.


As Christmas recess approaches, the Standing Committee reschedules the last presentation, which was supposed to be from the Catholic bishops of Canada.


The Emergency Organization for the Defence of the Unborn makes a strong pro-life presentation with Dr. Philip Cooper of Ottawa warning that by widening the abortion law, Parliament risks devaluing human life more broadly. He predicts that legalizing abortion in limited circumstances would lead to euthanasia, widespread eugenic abortion and abortion-on-demand for convenience, not health considerations.


On December 19 the Standing Committee issues an interim report supporting revision of the Criminal Code to permit abortion.


The same day as the Globe article (Dec 20), one day after the interim report was released – the government notifies Parliament of its intention to liberalize the abortion law in an Omnibus Bill. Just hours before most members would travel home for the Christmas holidays, the bill receives first reading.  The Omnibus Bill has 72 pages and features more than 100 clauses on issues as diverse as contraception, divorce, homosexuality and abortion, to passport regulations and jury rules, to permitting lotteries and relaxation of marijuana laws. The Omnibus Bill maintained abortion as a criminal offence (Section 251 of the Criminal Code), but permitted it when an application for an abortion was accepted by the majority of a three-person therapeutic abortion committee. The health of the mother was insufficiently defined, so the emotional health of the mother could be a consideration. It soon became evident that the TACs (Therapeutic Abortion Committees) were rubber-stamping almost every application and abortion soon became the second most common surgery after tonsillectomies.

1968

The Omnibus Bill – C-195 – dies on the order paper when Parliament is prorogued in April to permit the Liberal leadership race. Trudeau wins his own majority in June.


John Turner, an Ottawa MP who calls himself Catholic, is named the Justice Minister.


On July 6 Turner announces he would re-introduce the Omnibus Bill and insisted the amendment to the Criminal Code would not promote abortion, nor lead to taxpayer funding of abortion.

 

1969

Second reading begins in January.


Turner agrees to a separate vote on abortion on May 9 to remove the clause from the Omnibus Bill. Only the Ralliement Creditiste led by Real Caouette is unanimous in its opposition to abortion, along with only 2 Liberals and 25 Progressive Conservatives and one NDP member. In favour of the Bill are 85 Liberals, 7 Progressive Conservatives and 15 NDP members. Among the Progressive Conservatives 40 abstained.


On May 14 the entire Omnibus Bill is voted upon for the final time with 149 (119 Liberals, 18 New Democrats, 12 Progressive Conservatives) voting in favour of it, and 55 (43 Progressive Conservatives, 11 Creditistes, 1 Liberal) voting against it. In retrospect, May 14 must rank as the Day of Infamy – the day on which Parliament decided to remove legal protection for the unborn child. Other life issues would soon be raised.

 

1970

In the first year of the change there are 11,152 abortions performed in Canada.

 

1972

Parliament abolishes suicide and attempted suicide as a criminal offence.

 

1973

A national pro-life group called Coalition For Life is founded.

 

1978

A second pro-life, political action group is founded called Campaign Life.

 

1980

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is signed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. After study of the Charter by legal experts, Campaign Life runs a full page ad in The Catholic Register newspaper warning that the document is flawed and amongst other things, will lead to the legalization of homosexual "marriage". The Editor of The Catholic Register gets fired for allowing the ad to run. Campaign Life’s prediction is dismissed by religious leaders as baseless fear-mongering.

1982

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is enshrined in the new Canadian Constitution.

 

1986

Campaign Life and the Coalition For Life groups merge to form Campaign Life Coalition as it exists today.

 

1988

Following legal challenges by Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the operator of an illegal abortuary in Quebec, the Supreme Court of Canada strikes down section 251 of the Criminal Code, the section governing abortion, declaring it unconstitutional. It leaves Canada without an abortion law. However, this made no real difference in the abortion landscape because the so-called "therapeutic abortion panels" already authorized mostly all abortions by broadly interpreting the Criminal Code's "health of the woman" exception to mean "mental health", "economic health", "familial health", etc. In other words, de facto abortion-on-demand already existed.

 

1989

The Mulroney Progressive Conservative government introduces Bill C-43 in a phony effort to legislate on abortion after the Supreme Court ruling of 1988 effectively left Canada without any laws regulating abortion.

 

1990

Bill C-43 unleashes major public debate. From a pro-life perspective, the bill offers no real protection to the unborn since it would make abortion a right and strictly a matter between a woman and her doctor. The criteria for abortion choice and the definition of maternal "health" are extremely vague, meaning abortion-on-demand would still continue. All efforts to toughen the bill are rejected by the government. Bill C-43 is passed by the House of Commons in May of 1990 by a slim margin of 9 votes.

 

1991

Bill C-43 is defeated in the Senate in January 1991 when the voting on the measure results in a 43-43 vote, leaving Canada still with no law on abortion.


Supreme Court of Canada rules that a child, waiting to be born, is not a person. This confirms that unborn children do not have any legal rights until they exit the womb.

 

1993

Tracy Latimer is killed by her father Robert Latimer. He is arrested, charged with murder and convicted in 1994.

 

1995

Senate Committee rejects attempt to revise Criminal Code re: euthanasia and assisted euthanasia. "Voluntary" and "involuntary" euthanasia are retained as criminal acts.

 

2001

Supreme Court of Canada upholds the Latimer sentence of life in prison with 10 years to be served without parole.


Abortion issue is declared closed by Prime Minister Jean Chretien, saying that there is social peace in the country, that the issue has been settled in favor of "choice" for women. The official number of abortions performed in 2001 now numbers 106,418.

 

2003

Bill C-13 is passed governing assisted reproduction technologies. Stem cell research that involves destroying embryonic human beings is approved by Parliament. C-13 also approves some forms of human cloning.


Three activist, provincial appellate courts declare traditional definition of marriage as unconstitutional.


Prime Minister Jean Chretien sends the issue of same-sex unions to the Supreme Court for legal reference (opinion).

 

2004

Parliament quietly, and without public debate, passes Bill C-250 that potentially endangers freedom of speech and freedom of religion, by enshrining sexual orientation as a criterion for hate-based speech. "Hate speech" is not defined and "sexual orientation" is not defined.

2005

On February 11 Bill C-38 is introduced, a bill to legalize homosexual "marriage" by redefining marriage as being the union of two persons to the exclusion of all others, in place of the time-honored, natural definition of it being a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.


On June 28, House of Commons approves the passage of Bill C-38. The Canadian Senate invokes cloture and on July 20 gives its approval to Bill C-38 and royal assent immediately follows, thus completing the revolution of fundamental social change begun in 1969.


Despite the passage of the bill redefining marriage,
supporters of natural marriage launched a long campaign to overturn the legislation. Several public groups collaborated with the intention of electing pro-life, pro-marriage MPs.


Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde introduces a private member’s bill, C-407, to permit assisted suicide and euthanasia. It is unsuccessful because Parliament is prorogued in November 2005 with the calling of an election.

2006

The Conservative Party wins the January election and forms a minority government. During the campaign, its leader, Stephen Harper, promised to look at the same–sex marriage Legislation again.


On December 6 a motion indeed is introduced on whether to revisit the legislation regarding same-sex marriage. However, the vote proves to be a sham with little real debate. Observers suggest Harper was simply trying to make his social conservative base believe he was fighting for true marriage, while sending a signal to homosexualists that their agenda would remain safe with him. The motion failed to pass, with 175 nays to 123 yeas.

2007

On May 5 a major mainstream newspaper devotes its front page to the "A" word. For several weeks it prints dozens of letters on the subject of abortion, perhaps helping to re-ignite the public debate.


During the year, beginning in February, Human Rights Commissions across Canada receive complaints regarding alleged denial of human rights and the alleged 'fomenting of hate" through the publication of articles in various Canadian magazines. The three most prominent cases involve Catholic Insight magazine, (for allegedly publishing a series of hateful, homophobic articles), Maclean’s magazine (for publishing an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s book America Alone in which he postulated the possibility of a Muslim takeover of the West) and Ezra Levant’s Western Standard magazine (for publishing Danish cartoons on Mohammed) illustrate the questionable role of human rights commissions in Canada.

2008

On the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Morgentaler decision there are many articles appearing in the mainstream press. Letters to the editor run for several weeks.


On February 27, Robert Latimer is released on day parole (having served only 7 years of a life sentence) after appealing a ruling by the parole board initially denying him that privilege.


In February Liberal MP Keith Martin introduces a motion in Parliament (M-446) to scrap Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act which allows the Human Rights Commissions to investigate speech that is "likely to expose a person or persons to hate or contempt".


Human rights commissions are under increased scrutiny. They reverse tactics and do not proceed further against Maclean’s, Mark Steyn, Catholic Insight or Ezra Levant.


In August the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and its Manitoba counterpart introduce a draft policy stating that doctors must make abortion referrals regardless of their conscientious beliefs in order to avoid human rights complaints. The offending sentence reads: "physician who refuses to provide a service or refuses to accept a patient on the basis of a prohibited ground such as sex or sexual orientation may be acting contrary to the (Human Rights) Code, even if the refusal is based on the physician’s moral or religious belief."


The following month, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) revise the controversial draft policy that would have forced Ontario’s physicians to put aside their religious beliefs in their medical practices or face disciplinary action. Instead the policy now emphasizes that physicians who refuse to perform a particular medical procedure could face action by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). The OHRC has a history of strenuous opposition to the presence of religion in the public square.


In September, Ottawa and Halifax became the first Canadian cities to host a 40 Days For Life campaign of continuous prayer & fasting to end abortion. This campaign was a 24 hour, 7 day a week prayer vigil outside abortion facilities. Halifax organizers say the they were reacting against the honouring of arch-abortionist Henry Morgentaler with the order of Canada.  Over the next 1-1/2 years, 40 Days For Life spread to nine Canadian cities. Many lives were saved and new people brought into the pro-life movement.

 

2009

By March other medical Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons (Alberta, Saskatchewan) are considering revisions to physicians’ professional responsibilities. The Alberta proposal states that (1) "Even if a physician’s religious or personal convictions prevent the physician from advising or offering care regarding birth control or termination of a pregnancy, the physician must ensure that the patient who seeks such advice or medical care is offered access to information and assistance in making an informed decision and access to available medical options." The Protection of Conscience Project, a Canadian organization which advocates for protection of conscience legislation, has taken the CPSA to task over the proposed restriction of freedom of conscience. Its spokesman, Sean Murphy, argued that "to demand that physicians provide or assist in the provision of procedures or services that they believe to be wrong is to treat them as means to an end and deprive them of their essential humanity."


In February there is a 40 Days for Life witnessing by pro-life people outside an abortion facility in north Toronto. Thousands participate in prayer and witnessing over the forty days of Lent. In September, 7 Canadian cities host 40 Days For Life campaigns.


On May 12 Francine Lalonde the Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament introduces for a third time a private members bill to legalize euthanasia in Canada.
Her first two attempts that were introduced in June 2005 – Bill C-407 and June 2008 – Bill C-562 would have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. Both bills were not limited to the direct and intentional killing of terminally ill persons, but also people experiencing chronic physical and mental pain. Her previous bills were falsely sold under the guise of choice and autonomy, but were really about the rules that needed to be followed for one person to intentionally and directly cause the death of another person.


May 14 sees more than 12,000 on Parliament Hill in the largest ever March for Life, on the 40th anniversary of the Day of Infamy.


Harold Albrecht Conservative MP pushes back against the pro-suicide lobby by introducing resolution M-388 which would make it a crime to counsel suicide via the internet.