Lecture Note - jan 18

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20 Jan 2011
We will discuss the saga about laws.
Why is abortion so controversial?
Why is it such a huge issue?? The issue of abortion raises the
fundamental question the course is concerned with –do people own
their bodies??
If so, do bodies have a price?
What about sperm and blood?
Sperm and blood are not commodities
Do women own their own bodies?
Bodies are commodities sometimes e.g. if you wear the uniform of tim
hortons, you sold your body to tim hortons.
Sometimes, men can sell bodies, but women cannot.
If women are not pregnant, then our body is similar to men. If you are
pregnant, in may situations, the legal status if your body is different.
Since only women is pregnant, than clearly a gender difference.
If pregnancy is not wholly in the womens condition, who has the
property or other interest in the pregnancy??
International context:
Abortion is an interesting phenomenon, socially it is very similar to one
place to another, women has always obtained them from one condition
to another, the number of abortions per capita does not differ from a
huge amount, either no birth control or abortion is very readily
available. Abortion experiences are not too different from one place to
Even though socially, there is a lot of similarities, yet the law about
abortion is strikingly different from one place to another.
In Scandinavian, harder to get an abortion.
Countries in Ireland forbid abortion.
Being raped in Ireland is not grounds for having an abortion in
Abortion is such an outlier.
In China- women are often pressured to have an abortion, they didnt
an official state permission to have a second child. they wont force
you to have an abortion but heavy financial burden if you have another
The international reproductive rights movement: it is a movement in
China that women should be able to have kids; women making their
own choices, it is not really in favour of abortion or no abortion. It is
about reproductive freedom.
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Reproductive rights international slogan: every child a wanted child,
every mother a willing mother.
History of how abortion became legalized in Canada:
Procuring an abortion- wasnt criminalized if you sought to have an
abortion, but whoever performed an abortion was criminalized could
be a doctor, etc.
Doctors were rarely prosecuted but often prosecuted if the women died
from complications.
When Trudeau became prime minister -1968 –he wanted to reform the
criminal code, this is before the Charter, the criminal code was
amended before the Charter was thought of.
In britian, wanted to change legal regulation of morality by the
wolfenden committee suggested that there should be a new principle
used to regulate law and morality this distinction to make a
distinction of public and private. It should be public indecency that
should be regulated.
What Trudeau did was major reform of the criminal code:
1) legalization of birth control (biggest impact)
2) homosexual sex was partially legalized
3) Abortion now legal exceptionally.
Section 251: abortion okay if performed in accredited hospital after
permission granted by the majority of members of a therapeutic
abortion committee (TAC)
You had to make an appointment to see the therapeutic abortion
committee in person.
The abortion committee had to make from 3 doctors, and none of the 3
doctors can be the one who performs the abortion. The abortion doctor
must be separate, so 4th doctor.
A great shortage of therapeutic committees.
Disadvantage: for people who live in rural areas.
Therefore, immediately it was denounced that it did not work.
Dr. Henry Morgentalers clinic: he came to Canada quite young, he was
always marked by holocost legacy of wanting to help people, and also
he was quite secular, he was not highly religious.
He decided to open a clinic he would just do abortions as a doctor, it
was raided as soon as it was opened by the police, and all kind of other
charges were laid.
The jury the jury says the law sucks. They acquitted Henry M.
In terms of acquitting someone who was clearly guilty, it almost never
Jury nullification usually not a term in Canada.
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