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SOC323H5 (91)


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University of Toronto Mississauga
Nicole Myers

SOC323 – regulating the uterus: abortion & new reproductive technologies Term paper The issue is an example in your paper to demonstrate rights in Canada – how the Charter has changed; don’t outline historical debate; towards end discuss policy implications: what does this mean for other groups & for Canadian culture? Consider answering questions on slide 4; what can we say about the way rights were invoked in Canada Pro-life vs. Pro-choice Article 1: Canadian convict given order of Canada for abortion – debate over whether he deserved it Article 2: Ireland’s first abortion clinic Right to abortion in Canada since past 25 years; issues around morality & ethics; talked about it in different ways Both groups launched rights-based arguments: woman’s rights to end pregnancy vs. fetus’ right to life (Charter) Opposed towards state control for abortion – women should have full right to choose: full reproductive freedom is central to realization of gender equality – must have right to choose & should have complete access no matter where they live (no differential access over provinces and urban women) Reproductive rights and right to make a choice are fundamental to women’s equality Pro-life: rights of unborn child take a legal and moral precedence over women’s rights to choice (life should take precedence over choice) Recognition that this is difficult and not all pregnancies are wanted, but being able to choose is not strong or compelling enough to overwrite right to life for fetus Result: competing rights of women and fetus Things to Consider Impact charter had on arguments put forward Arguments that were post-charter, would they have gained as much attraction prior to charter? How does debate around abortion shift over time? Criminal offence to medical problem and now rests on issues of rights History CC prohibited advertising condoms & if you did not want to be pregnant, couldn’t do anything about it (legally); indictable offence: up to max of life imprisonment; anyone assisting a female in attaining an abortion; max sentence of 2 years if carried out own miscarriage; other sections dealt with murder (abortion was equivalent to it as it was intentional taking of a life), manslaughter, neglect of child, concealing a body Fetus’ right to life takes precedence women’s right to choose Just b/c it was illegal did not keep women from going out and getting an abortion or trying a variety of means on oneself; if you had financial means could travel (to USA b/c could more easily get an abortion maybe) Concerns of unsanitary environment and abortions by unqualified people – resulted in many women dying 1926-47: 4-6000 women died in Canada from illegal abortions Also a criminal offence to perform an abortion; differential level of punishment attached 1960s: mid-rise of feminism, was gaining attraction; civil rights; discussions around having birth control available; Trudeau was in power & was active in civil rights movement (Charter), who believed that “the state has no right in the bedroom” of people – no right to constrain personal choices – things around sexual practices shouldn’t be in purview of government; abortion was a morality choice and should not be dictated by state, each individual should make choice for themselves; his government produced bill: changes in laws around family laws (divorce), birth control, and abortion Therapeutic Abortions Necessary for health and safety of the mother – performing and undergoing was still an indictable offence but were allowed under this exception; could take place in accredited hospital with written consent of committee of minimum 3 doctors – if panel of 3 (or more) agreed, could be performed Shifting out of legal realm Rather than looking at it as a question of illegality or morality, it is now a medical problem: doctors supervise Issue: panel typically comprised of women – having men decide health of woman before them - Allowing permission - Only doctors on panel could decide whether abortion could occur or not Abortions not allowed in clinics – exaggerating disparity  hospitals who were liberal were more likely to agree to perform abortions (also living in city) vs. those in rural areas (may only have a single hospital) Common for hospitals to be run by Catholic views – did not allow abortion Issue: not equally available for all women (living in rural area, would have to travel back and forth) – access to abortion (concern of farther along pregnancy = more risks/dangers and more difficulty people have with idea of abortion – more acceptable to happen in first trimester) - So what if someone wanted one in seventh months? - Don’t necessarily know you are pregnant for months so begin to enter window - If allow 3 months only, women are not aware until then - 8 weeks delay, and another 8 weeks before abortion could be performed - Women went down to USA for easier and faster way to get abortion Clinics Morgentaler opens up a clinic around abortion, contraception, and family planning – women should have choice to protect her life, health, and have an abortion in a medical, clean and sanitary environment – should not have to resort to unsafe procedures Charged with conspiracy to perform an abortion; charged with 10 more offences related to abortion Jury trial composed of 11 men and 1 woman, who found him un-guilty – overturned acquittal of jury and convicts him so he appeals to Supreme Court, which voted 6-3 (majority) to uphold the appeal court’s decision (guilty) and is sentenced to 18 months (pre-Charter) Other charges come up, and once again jury acquits and this time appeal court upholds USA th Roe v. Wade: abortion decision – landmark’s decision; their Supreme Court: 14 amendment right to privacy extended to women’s right or ability to choose have an abortion, and this right must be balanced with state’s very legitimate interest in protecting prenatal life and women’s health – state’s interests grow stronger as goes further into pregnancy  court did by trimester, then later rejected and went by viability (ability of unborn child to live outside the womb) Back in Canada Orders new trial take place, and jury once again finds him not guilty – Quebec government then drops all further charges on him Opens clinics despite CC provisions; Winnipeg and Toronto clinics are raided and charged again with conspiracy for abortion/miscarriage – acquitted again Attorney General appeals acquittal: court of appeal goes back to trial and he appeals to the Supreme Court Perhaps times are changing – wh
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