Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Twenty years of legal abortion

In January, 2008, Canada's laws restricting abortion were struck down. Abortion became a matter between a woman and her doctor, constrained only by the Canada Health Act. That doesn't mean that women can get an abortion at any time; while it's not illegal, doctors will not do a late abortion except for sound medical reasons. In fact, it can be hard to get an abortion after ten weeks, which is really eight weeks, since official pregnancy starts on the first day of the last period. So by the time a woman realizes she's pregnant, it is getting a little late for her to arrange for an abortion.

Civilization did not fall. Abortion became safer because with fewer hoops to jump through, it's on the average earlier. One notable statistic is that the crime rate took a sudden dip a few years ago. That's not surprising. One of the rare controlled studies showed that women who wanted abortions and didn't get them raised children who were more likely to turn to crime.

Here's the story: "Both sides of the debate mark 20 years of legal abortion."
On Jan. 28, 1988, Chief Justice Brian Dickson ruled that a Canadian law severely restricting access to medical abortions was unconstitutional because it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms....

Louise Harbour, who is a member of the anti-abortion group Action Life Ottawa, said people's perspective on unplanned pregnancy has changed in the years since the law was struck down.

"It's as if it's almost expected that …you will choose an abortion if you find yourself pregnant," she said.

[One student], a member of Canadian Youth for Choice, said abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion groups do share some common ground, and the next step in the ongoing debate over abortion rights is for the two sides to work together.

When the two sides meet, she said, they both talk about preventing unintended pregnancies.

"And so what can we do to work together in order to prevent it?" she said. "Really, at the end of the day, we want women to be making healthy choices for themselves and however they define that."

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