Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a Canadian abortion rights leader, will receive the Order of Canada today in Quebec. The Order of Canada is the country’s highest civilian honor.
A press release from the Canadian Governor General’s office cites Morgentaler as putting “himself at risk in his determined drive to increase health care options for Canadian women [and] influencing public policy nationwide.”
Morgentaler began his fight for abortion rights in 1969 when he opened an illegal abortion clinic in Montreal. He was consequently jailed for 10 months when he publicly revealed that he had assisted thousands of abortions without going through the then-required screening process. After he was acquitted, Morgentaler challenged a number of laws in other Canadian provinces; this leading to the 1988 Supreme Court ruling that effectively made abortion legal. Today, Canada is a leader in abortion rights, with some of the greatest access to abortion procedures in publicly funded clinics and hospitals.