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A Brief History Of Abortion In Canada
(Or How We Fell In Love With Infanticide)

Emmett Cardinal Carter; Pierre Elliott Trudeau; Henry Morgentaler
Emmett Cardinal Carter; Pierre Elliott Trudeau; Henry Morgentaler

1) Introduction

As we speak, in Canada, anybody can legally kill any unborn child for any reason, from conception to birth [note 9]. Yet about 40 years ago, abortion was a crime. What happened? How did Canada "fall in love with infanticide"? How did we go from a country where it was horribly wrong for parents to assassinate their own children, to a country that glorifies abortion, to a country where killing children is a "fundamental right" payed for with our taxes, to a country where even standing too close to an abortuary with a pro-life sign will get you thrown in jail?

In this short essay, I will attempt to explain how Canada fell in love with killing its own children.

2) Three disclaimers: expertise, slippery slope, multi-factorial

First, please note I'm not a historian or a sociologist or some other expert, and please do contact me if you notice a mistake in my facts or logic.

Second, the word "brief" in the title is almost synonymous with "incorrect". The history of abortion is like the history of just about any other major social change: it happened gradually. "History doesn't make leaps", and many human persons don't completely change their minds overnight. The usual metaphor to explain this is a slippery slope. You start at the top of the slope, and eventually you end up at the bottom, but in between both events, you occupy specific locations on that slippery slope, one after the other, and each new position is very close to the previous position, but just a little bit closer to the bottom.

Third, the word "brief" in the title is not only misleading because big social changes occur gradually, but also because big social changes require the presence of several different factors, i.e. the phenomenon is multi-factorial. The history of abortion in Canada cannot be explained with just one factor, or just one person, or just one event. Many factors had to come into play, and I probably won't be able to mention all of them (but of course, I'll try to pick up the most important ones).

3) Some numbers on abortion

Abortions in Canada, from 1968 to 2007
Abortions in Canada, from 1968 to 2007

How many abortions have occured in Canada ever year, from 1968 to 2007? According to Statistics Canada:


No data found


11 152


50 705


72 099


69 216


92 901


106 658

These numbers must be taken with caution:

Coverage of abortions performed in Canada was considered to be 100% prior to 1988. In January 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the 1969 abortion law, and some hospital and provincial ministry respondents interpreted this action as the basis for no longer having to report to the Therapeutic Abortion Survey [...] At the federal level, [...] Statistics Canada chose to treat [the survey] as 'voluntary'
[note 1, p. 4].

Diminishing Core Data Set [...] it is increasingly difficult to respond to requests since only 43% of total abortions contain detailed information [...] the survey does not collect data elements such as [...] reason for the abortion
[note 1, p. 4].

Medical (pharmaceutical [i.e. using the abortion pill]) abortions: With the recent introduction of medical abortions, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure the collection of data on all induced abortions. For example, it is not known if medical abortions are being initiated in physician offices, in addition to the traditional locations of hospitals and clinics.
[note 1, p. 3].

This last caveat is even more important if you consider that in Quebec schools, the school nurse can give abortion pills to a girl. No parental notification, no prescription from a physician, no reporting to Statistics Canada [note 2]. The number of actual abortions is probably still increasing, whatever Statistics Canada tells us.

See also statistiques from Éco-Santé Québec [note 8].

4) Some important dates

After looking quickly at the changes in numbers of abortions, let's look at some important dates in the evolution of Canadian laws on abortion.

For thousands of years the killing of unborn children was prohibited in Western society. [...] In 1803, because of increased medical knowledge of the development of human life in the womb, Great Britain passed Lord Ellenborough's Act. This Act declared abortion to be a crime and a felony at any time after conception. [...] The British prohibitions were the law in Canada when the Canadian Parliament created its own Criminal Code which came into force in 1893 [note 3, 10.1].


Two important events occured in 1968. First, Pierre Elliot Trudeau was elected as Prime Minister of Canada. Second, the leader of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Emmett Cardinal Carter, and all other Canadian Bishops signed the Winnipeg Statement.

Trudeau is important because he was profoundly pro-abortion (as well as pro-divorce, pro-sodomy, etc.), and resorted to any and all tactics to manipulate Canada into accepting abortion. For example, he constanly clamored that he was a good Catholic (even though the Church teaches that you are automatically excommunicated if you are obstinately pro-choice). He praised abortionists like Henry Morgentaler as "a good friend, a fine humanitarian and a true humanist". He prevented anybody in his party from opposing abortion. He cleverly based all Canadian laws on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is itself a vague document needing interpretation, and he entrusted this interpretation to the Supreme Court, filled with pro-choice judges that he alone nominated for life! [note 4].

The Winnipeg Statement is important because, whether we like it or not, the Catholic Church still had in those days a lot of influence. Just about every city in Canada has a Catholic church, and often a Catholic school. The majority of Canadian Christians are at least nominally Catholics. Even more importantly, for the past 38 years or so, with a five month exception for Kim Campbell and the recent election of Stephen Harper, every single Prime Minister has claimed to be Catholic. The Winnipeg Statement basically cut Canada off from the Pope and therefore from the Catholic Church. This Statement teaches a heresy, i.e. that "your conscience decides", that good and evil are not objective, but rather subjective. (This heresy was condemned by Pope John Paul II a few years later, but the Canadian Bishops have never recanted the Winnipeg Statement.)


Bill C-150, by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Justice Minister John Turner, amended Section 251 of the Canadian Criminal Code. Section 251 says abortion is a crime, but subsection 4 cunningly provides a loophole that will only get bigger with time. Abortions are now "legal", when done by a doctor in a hospital after approval for the procedure has been given by a "therapeutic abortion committee", which has judged that a woman's life or health "would or would be likely to be affected by the continuation of pregnancy".

Of course, if a bunch of people can gather around and decide to kill an innocent human person, then there is nothing wrong with abortion! This clever Trojan Horse would take many years to deploy all of its nefarious consequences.


Henry Morgentaler announces that he has, illegally, aborted 5 000 children. In May of that year, he allows TV cameras to show him aborting a child in his abortuary. The abortion is shown, on Mother's Day, on national TV. He is arrested again, but aquitted by jury. This is only one example of "desensitization" of the Canadian population by the media. By constantly repeating that abortion is OK, that pro-lifers are violent and irrational, that abortions are a "woman's right", and so on, the Canadian media continue to "bend" Canadian minds. One of their fundamental tactics can be called verbal manipulation. Unborn babies become "unwanted pregnancies" or "a woman's body", plain abortions become "therapeutic abortions", then they become "voluntary pregnancy interruptions", pro-abortion becomes "pro-choice", good Christians become "fundamentalists", the abortion pill becomes the "day-after pill", and so on. Among the culprits are the Globe and Mail and Le Devoir newspapers, Chatelaine magazine, etc.

In the U.S., abortion laws protecting preborn children are struck down in 46 states by the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. Since Canada usually follows its big neighbor to the South, it was already clear at that time what was going to happen in Canada.


The Canadian Charter of Rights, which completely deny the rights of the preborn child, becomes part of the new Canadian Constitution. (Remember that now all laws depend on this Charter, which is intentionally vague.) Bertha Wilson, an outspoken pro-abortionist, is appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Henry Morgentaler makes plans to open up illegal abortuaries in Toronto and Winnipeg.


The Supreme Court of Canada strikes down Section 251 of the Criminal Code, the section governing abortion, declaring it unconstitutional [note 5], [note 6]. The Canadian Charter of Rights shows its true face: a tool for social engineering by the Courts. Canada has been suspended in an intentional legal vacuum ever since. Since what is not forbidden is permitted, this means that, practically speaking, anybody can legally kill any unborn child for any reason, from conception to birth.

Since 1988, abortion laws in Canada have become a simple question of "regular maintenance". Once in a while, some MP tries to put forth a Bill, but the Prime Minister quickly snuffs it out (a recent example being C-291 by Leon Benoit, in 2006 [note 7]). Another way of performing this "regular maintenance" is to continue to attack morality and the family (legalized wife-swapping, legal glorification of homosexual unions, etc.), that way nobody has time to think about abortion.

5) Conclusion

What happened to abortion laws in Canada over a period of about 40 years would have been impossible without the direct collaboration of corrupt Catholic Bishops, corrupt Prime Ministers, and corrupt media.


6) Notes

[1] "Data Quality in the Therapeutic Abortion Survey" [broken link: www.statcan.ca/english/sdds/document/3209_D4_T2_V5_E.pdf], on the Statistics Canada web site. Is this the replacement link: Therapeutic Abortion Survey?

[2] Quebec School Nurses to Prescribe Abortifacients to School Girls, April 26, 2005.

[3] Abortion Briefing Book for Canadian Legislators, Campaign Life Coalition National public affairs office, updated July 2002.

[4] The Real Pierre Trudeau: Father of Canada's Permissive Society, by Steve Jalsevac.

[5] R. v. Morgentaler, 1988 CanLII 90 (S.C.C.)

[6] "Rather than address the constitutional status of the right to seek an abortion, the majority reasons focused on the procedural flaws of the legislation. That allowed the Court to invalidate the provisions and leave room for Parliament to re-enact measures which cured the flaws and retained certain limits on abortion. By virtue of Parliament's inability to enact successor legislation, abortion has effectively been legalized in Canada."
Top 10 Charter Cases: As revealed at the Symposium on the 25th anniversary of the Charter, A tribute to Chief Justice Roy McMurtry (2007-April-12)

[7] National Post Confirms Tories Sank Benoit Bill Over Abortion Issue Fears, by Steve Jalsevac.

[8] Taux d'interruption volontaire de grossesse (IVG), according to Éco-Santé Québec.

[9] In Canada, a baby is not considered a human person until he or she has completely exited the birth canal:

223. (1) A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not (a) it has breathed; (b) it has an independent circulation; or (c) the navel string is severed.
Criminal Code of Canada.

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