People who feel that Dr. Henry Morgentaler is undeserving of the Order of Canada (a prestigious award that recognizes Canadians for doing something that makes a difference in Canada) have been returning their Order of Canada medals after Morgentaler received his award.

He performed illegal abortions in Canada, back when it was still illegal across the country. He opened abortion clinics and pushed for the right for women in Canada to choose what to do in the event that they are pregnant. In a time when there was no safe choice, he stepped up for what he believed in: that women have the right to choose. Canada is now one of the very few countries in the world that has no legal restrictions on if you can have an abortion. In Canada, you can choose to have an abortion if it is to protect a woman’s life, physical health, mental health, in the event of a rape, because of fetal defects, socio-economic factors and on request if you do not fall under any of these categories.

I think it’s acceptable that people are willing to return one of the highest awards that a Canadian can get in this country because they feel the newest recipient is undeserving, they are within their rights to do so. But the fact remains that he fought for something that he believed in. He was punished and sent to jail for doing his illegal abortions, but he fought for what he believed in all the same. He fought for legal and safe practices and for the legal right to choose. Doesn’t that make him worthy on some level?

And for those that are curious, the following provinces/territories have abortions fully funded by the provincial governments: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Newfoundland. Partially funded abortions are available in Quebec and Nova Scotia. No funding for New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island and there are no hospitals or clinics that perform abortions in Nunavut.

For more reading on this topic: here, here, here and here.

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