Abortion care in Canada is decided between a woman and her doctor, without recourse to criminal law – Dr. Wendy Norman

As the UK debates decriminalisation of abortion and people wonder about the effects it might have,1 it may be useful to consider the Canadian experience of nearly 30 years without a criminal law to police access to abortion.

For many years, abortion was prohibited under the Canadian criminal code unless provided in a hospital after a “therapeutic abortion committee” confirmed that the continuation of a woman’s pregnancy “would be likely to endanger her life or health.”2

However, in 1988 the Supreme Court (in what is known as the Morgentaler case) struck down that abortion provision on the grounds that it violated the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms.3

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