Document Detail

The abortion battle: the Canadian scene.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  8065237     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
In January 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country's archaic abortion law on the ground that it imposed arbitrary delays and unfair disparities in access to abortion across the country. Since then, the conservative government of Canada has made a few attempts to introduce a new abortion policy, but it did not get passed in the parliament because the revised bills failed to protect women's right to 'life, liberty, and security of the person' within the meaning of the Canadian Charter. Canada has been without an abortion law for over four years and there has been a wide range of provincial policies and confusion in the country. Despite the legal vacuum, Canadian women are not frenziedly having abortions. However, the militancy of the anti-abortion groups has steadily intensified with continued assault on a woman's right to make reproductive choices. Since no law, short of banning abortions altogether, is going to satisfy abortion opponents, the abortion battle will rage on in Canada.
Since the Canadian Supreme Court struck down the federal abortion law in 1988, maintaining that it jeopardized women's health by imposing arbitrary delays and unfair disparities in access, both pro-choice and pro-life organizations have been campaigning vigorously for their positions. At present, a legal vacuum exists, in which abortion is not included in the Criminal Code and women are, at least theoretically, able to make choices regarding pregnancy termination. Several attempts by conservative forces to recriminalize abortion have been narrowly defeated due to their failure to safeguard a woman's right to life, liberty, and security. There is no evidence that this legal vacuum has resulted in steep increases in the numbers in the numbers of abortions. Although the abortion rate has increased slightly each year since 1986, this is a reflection of improved reporting, larger numbers of women in the reproductive age group, earlier onset of sexual activity, and the lack of effective contraception. On the other hand, there has been a dramatic decline since 1988 in the number of Canadian women travelling to the US for abortions. The percentage of abortions performed in the first trimester increased from 83% in 1975 to 88% in 1990, while the abortion complication rate fell from 3.2% to 1.2%. Overall, recent experiences raise the question of why abortion can not be treated in the same way under law as other medical procedures.
P Sachdev
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Medicine and law     Volume:  13     ISSN:  0723-1393     ISO Abbreviation:  Med Law     Publication Date:  1994  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1994-09-22     Completed Date:  1994-09-22     Revised Date:  2004-11-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8218185     Medline TA:  Med Law     Country:  SOUTH AFRICA    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1-9     Citation Subset:  IM; J    
School of Social Work, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, Canada.
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MeSH Terms
Abortion, Legal* / statistics & numerical data,  trends
Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence*
Health Services Accessibility / legislation & jurisprudence*
Waiting Lists
Women's Rights / legislation & jurisprudence*

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