Combined Lecture and Textbook Notes: Reproduction and Personhood

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Women's Studies
Women's Studies 2270A/B
Amanda J Porter

Reproduction and Personhood R v MorgentalerR v Morgentaler 1988 1 SCR 30 was a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada wherein the abortion provision in the Criminal Code of Canada was found to be unconstitutional as it violated a womans right under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to security of person Ever since this ruling there have been no laws regulating abortion in CanadaQuestion Does s 251 which limits a pregnant womans access to abortion violate her right to life liberty and security of the person per Charter s 7Criminal Code s 215y1 Everyonewith intent to procure the miscarriage of a female personis liable to imprisonment for life2 Every pregnant person with usesor permits any meansfor the purpose of carrying out her intention to procure her own miscarriage isliable to imprisonment for two year Therapeutic Abortion CommitteeSubsections 1 and 2 do not apply toy A qualified medical practitioner and a pregnant person using an accredited or approved hospital yfor the purpose of procuring a miscarriage if the therapeutic abortion committee for that accredited or approved hospital by a majority of the members of the committee and at a meeting of the committee at which the case of such female person has been reviewedhas by certificate in writing stated that in its opinion the continuation of the pregnancy of such yfemale person would or would be likely to endanger her life or health andhas caused a copy of such certificate to be given to the qualified medical practitionery S 251 struck down procedural requirements violate Charter y Justice Wilson Can women be compelled by law to carry a fetus to term against her will Charter right to individual liberty is tied to the concept of human dignity the ability to decide ywhat to do and how to do it and to carry out ones own decisions and accept their consequences State in a democratic society must respect the decisions of their citizens including those ydecisions made by womenCommittee decisions are made on criteria entirely unrelated to the pregnant womans own ypriorities and aspirations A discussion of the procedural requirements for obtaining an abortion is moot violating a ywomans right to liberty by deciding for her something that she has the right to decide for herself is the real issueAt the heart of this appeal is the question whether a pregnant woman can as a constitutional ymatter be compelled by law to carry the foetus to termThe legislature has proceeded on the basis that she can be so compelled and has made yit a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment under s 251 of the criminal code for her or her physician to terminate the pregnancy unless the procedural requirements of the section are complied withyChief Justice and Justice Beetz found that the requirements do not comport with the principles of fundamental justice in the procedural sense and have concluded
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