The right to have an abortion is and should be an essential part of the right of every woman to control over her body and life, in a realistic and just perspective, without resorting to any overt appeal to the hardcore feminist philosophy (Trib 14). Until one voluntarily and freely wishes to do so, no culture, religion, government or community has the power to force any woman into motherhood (Trib 14). Denying a woman’s right to have an abortion is equivalent to forcing a woman to embrace a position in society that is submissive and subservient. The prevailing philosophies and factors in such a situation turn to the abuse of maternity and motherhood as a way of granting women a second class status (Trib 16). Access to safe and protected abortion clinics is a confirmation of one’s human right to regulate one’s body in the case of women. No one or culture has the right to monitor what happens to an individual’s body or what individual wishes to do to his or her body to guarantee personal well-being (Trib 17). The fight against anti-abortion laws in North America, especially in Canada and the US, has been long and constant, followed by both positive and negative impacts on women in North America.
Canada- Abortion Laws
The Canadian legislature passed stringent anti-abortion rules in 1869 (Tatalovich 23). These laws strictly prohibited abortion, unless an abortion was required to save a women’s life, as a response to a medical emergency. A hundred years later, the then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau somewhat loosened the anti-abortion laws by allowing for an abortion, provided it was supported and recommended by a committee of doctors (Tatalovich 26). However, women in Canada still had no right to make a decision in a personal capacity, as to have an abortion. Practically speaking, most of the Hospitals in Canada refused to constitute such committees (Tatalovich 27). And even if such committees existed in some hospitals, they mostly refused to grant permission for an abortion at one pretext or other (Tatalovich 27). The abortion clinics were considered illegal and subject to severe penalties (Tatalovich 27). The women who struggled most were those from small cities or remote areas (Tatalovich 29).
- Cott, Nancy F. No Small Courage: A History of Women in the United States. Oxford University Press: New York, 2000.
- Faur, Christine. Political and Historical Encyclopedia of Women. Routledge: New York, 2007.
- Risen, James & Thomas, Judy L. Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War. Basic Books: New York, 1998.
- Tatalovich, Raymond. The Politics of Abortion in United States and Canada. ME Sharpe: Armonk, NY, 1997.
- Trib, Laurence H. The Clash of Absolutes. WW Norton: New York, 1992.