On February 15 this year, I posted this question: “Should Henry Morgentaler be awarded the Order of Canada?” It was a short post and, I thought, relatively innocent. To my utter astonishment the post received more comment – 67- than any other post since my blog began in the fall of 2006.
On Canada Day, Governor-General Michaelle Jean announced 75 new members of the Order of Canada including Henry Morgentaler. He was awarded the Order, the Governor-General wrote, because of “his commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined effort to influence Canadian public policy, and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations.”
Now 85, Morganteler, a Polish Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Montreal after the war, opened his first abortion clinic in 1969 and performed thousands of procedures, which were illegal at the time. Partly because of his efforts , the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s abortion law in 1988. Morganteler still runs six abortion clinics in Canada.
Not surpisingly, Dr. Morgentaler’s appointment has unleashsed a storm of controversey in the blogosphere, the editorial pages and most of all on both sides of the abortion issue.
The Campaign Life Coalition says it is dreadful that a man who spent his life performing abortions should honoured. Their spokesperson, Mary Ellen Douglas, says “If Morganteler had any integrity he would refuse the medal. This presentation should be given to people who have made Canada a better place to live and the elimination of thousands of human beings who would have contributed to the future of Canada is a disgrace, not an honour.”
On the other hand, feminist and author Judy Rebick, says “Dr. Morganteler is a hero to millions of women in this country. He risked his life to struggle for women’s rights …. He’as a huge figure in Canadian history and the fact hs hasn’t got [the Order of Canada] till now is a scandal.”
Campaign Life is urging Order of Canada recipents to return their medals in protest?
Should they return their medals?
Or does Dr. Morganteler deserve this honour? Some Conservative MPs say he is too divisive. But should only noncontroversial “safe” Canadians be awarded this honour. It would seem to me such an honours list would be pretty anemic.
Why do you think there was such a large response when we first raised this issue last February?