Henry Morgentaler and Abortion

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At 82 years old, Henry Morgentaler is still Canada’s most visible pro-choice activist of the last four decades. Despite his age he is still as passionate and committed to his cause as he was in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s – giving Canadian women access to safe and legal abortions. Confrontation with authority is familiar to Morgentaler. His journey to earn the title as the country’s best known abortion provider was unlikely, but expected considering the early traumatic experiences which led him to his eventual career. A Polish Jew who survived the Auschwitz death camp, Morgentaler has pointed out many times that unwanted children fighting against a family that abused them was one of the main causes of Hitler’s destruction against Jews as well as other groups of people. Morgentaler is quoted to have said in June 2005 at the University of Western Ontario, where he was awarded his first honorary degree that "Well-loved children grow into adults who do not build concentration camps, do not rape and do not murder.” Morgentaler said those Auschwitz years gave him a desperate need to accomplish something positive when and if he survived and got out of the concentration camp. His journey to recovery was not and easy one but it is what divides Canadian society to this day. When Morgentaler was finally liberated from Auschwitz, he won a scholarship and used it to study medicine in Germany. He and his wife immigrated to Montreal, Canada where he practiced family medicine and enjoyed his newfound freedom as well as life. For the next 17 years, the only Canadians who knew of Dr. Henry Morgentaler were his patients. However, in 1967, he made a dramatic debut on the national stage and entered the abortion debate. He went up before a government committee considering changes to the abortion law, insisting that any woman should have the right to end her pregnancy without risking her life because of someone who was not qualified to do the procedure. It was a risky position...
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