A supporter holds a sign at a rally in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Jan. 26, 2023. Joanne D’Arc/Campaign Life Coalition

Rally challenges 1988 Morgentaler Supreme Court ruling

  • January 26, 2023

No right to abortion was enshrined in law 35 years ago when the Supreme Court of Canada made its R. vs. Morgentaler ruling, and that remains the case today, said a letter delivered to the Prime Minister today, two days short of the anniversary of the court’s 1988 ruling.

Campaign Life Coalition president Jeff Gunnarson revealed his letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa before hand-delivering it to Trudeau’s office. Gunnarson contended that the ruling, which he said was inherently flawed, allowed pregnant women to kill their preborn children without restriction at any stage of the pregnancy. Furthermore, the letter points out that although this was the impact of the ruling, the Supreme Court judges had left the door open for Members of Parliament to pass legislation that balanced the rights of the mother with the protection of life in the womb. It urged the government to seize that opportunity.

“Science has now irrefutably proven that human life begins at fertilization,” Gunnarson wrote. “Medical technology has opened a window to the womb, showing beyond a shadow of doubt that the new life in the womb is a human life, with a body different from the mother’s body, a tiny person, with unique DNA and fingerprints, a someone whom all of us have a responsibility to care for.”

The 1988 Supreme Court ruling was based on the argument that the abortion law of 1969 violated a women’s right to “security of person.” But it also left the door open for parliamentary legislation to “balance the rights of the mother with the state’s interest in protecting life in the womb.”

The letter concluded with an appeal to the Prime Minister and Parliament to protect the most vulnerable.

“It has been said that a nation will be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members. Prime Minister, I present to you, the preborn human child, the most vulnerable among us. These smallest members of the human family are waiting on you and in Parliament to act on their behalf. I ask you, please, to stand up for them.”

Josie Luetke said the Jan. 28, 1988 ruling “has stripped 3.4 million human beings of their own birthdays and anniversaries.” explained Josie Luetke, 

“We wanted to mark this sombre occasion and remind Supreme Court judges and legislators — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in particular — of their continued failure to extend justice for all,” said Luetke, CLC’s director of education and advocacy. 

Luetke challenged Trudeau’s view that abortion is a right.

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms contains no right to abortion,” she told The Catholic Register. “Neither did the R.v. Morgentaler decision establish such a right… In fact, the justices actually tasked Parliament to legislate on abortion, and balance the interests of the fetus with a woman’s right to liberty and security of the person. So when Justin Trudeau repeats over and over again that abortion is a right, that’s just wishful thinking on his part.”

Despite the letter and the presence of a group of supporters who braved a snowfall to attend the news conference, Luetke has no illusions that there is any hope of change under Trudeau. 

“Do we think that change is likely under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? No, we are not delusional, but we know that if we don’t do anything, nothing will change,” she said.

She stressed however, that in her opinion, justice will prevail in the end. 

“It’s our job to keep pressing for it, regardless of the current odds,” she said. “There’s always a possibility of change in the near future. Look how quickly the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court shifted and how swiftly Roe.v. Wade was overturned. We definitely hope that the momentum of that victory will carry over to Canada, although our political landscape is very different.”

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