Saturday, October 11, 2008

Order of Canada for Abortion Doc? Shame on You, Canada!

Morgentaler receives Order of Canada in Quebec CityUpdated Fri. Oct. 10 2008 12:24 PM ET
The Canadian Press
QUEBEC -- Abortion rights activist Henry Morgentaler was awarded the Order of Canada on Friday as a few protesters voiced their opposition outside the Citadel in Quebec City.
Morgentaler was one of about 20 recipients who received the award Friday at a ceremony presided over by Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean.
Morgentaler, 85 is best known for taking his fight to have the country's abortion laws struck down in the Supreme Court about 20 years ago.
His naming to the Order of Canada sparked protests from across the country with some members returning their orders and abortion opponents saying the award devalues the honour. "I'm honoured to receive the Order of Canada today," Morgentaler said, reading from a statement following the ceremony.
"Canada's one of the few places in the world where freedom of speech and choice prevail in a truly democratic fashion."
The Order of Canada is the country's highest civilian honour for recognizing a lifetime of outstanding achievement and dedication to the community.
"I'm proud to have been given this opportunity coming from a war-torn Europe to realize my potential and my dream -- that is to create a better and more humane society," said Morgentaler, a Holocaust survivor.
Others who received the award Friday included Louise Arbour, former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada; Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment; and prominent Montreal fashion designer Simon Chang.
Henry Morgentaler's naming to Order of Canada met with controversyJuly 01, 2008
by Terry Pedwell
The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - The naming of abortion-rights activist Dr. Henry Morgentaler to the Order of Canada is being met with both applause and outrage.
The Harper government was quick to distance itself from the decision.
Morgentaler, best known for taking the issue of abortion rights all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, is among 75 people who will receive the prestigious national honour.
"The Conservative government is not involved in either deliberations or decisions with respect to which individuals are appointed to the Order of Canada," said Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"Rideau Hall makes these appointments based on the recommendations of the Advisory Council for the Order which is chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada."
Morgentaler was instrumental in having the high court strike down Criminal Code restrictions on abortion on Jan. 28, 1988, making Canada the only western democracy with no criminal sanctions of any kind against abortion.
He is to be named at a later date as a member of the Order of Canada for both his health care and humanitarian work, said a statement posted Tuesday on the governor general's website.
"For his commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations," the statement reads. [Read entire article at:]
Morgentaler enters the abortion debateBroadcast Date: Oct. 20, 1967
In the late 1960s Dr. Henry Morgentaler — a Montreal family physician — emerges as a vocal advocate for the right of Canadian women to have abortion on demand. Attempting to induce an abortion is a crime punishable by life in prison, or two years imprisonment if the woman herself is convicted. Abortion becomes Canada's most explosive issue. While the growing women's liberation movement pushes for legal change, many Canadians maintain that abortion is murder. In 1967 Morgentaler speaks before a government committee considering changes to the abortion law. In 1969 the federal government amends the law to make abortion legal under restricted conditions. An abortion can now be performed if a hospital committee decides continuation of the pregnancy would likely endanger the mother's life or health.
Skeletons in the closet
Morgentaler blasts his competition, but his own record is controversialCeleste McGovern
April 1, 1991
Henry Morgentaler is accusing Alberta doctors of botching abortions. He claimed two weeks ago that his proposed new Edmonton clinic will rescue Alberta women from high abortion-related complication rates. Dr. Morgentaler plans to open his Alberta abortion shop at 10141 150 Street, Edmonton, on July 1. He says that he will sell women safer, faster abortions than his less practiced hospital competition. But critics say this is just a case of the pot calling the kettle black: Dr. Morgentaler's own track record is not without blemish.
Dr. Morgentaler cited an Alberta Health report which put the province at the top of the list for abortion complications in Canada. He suggested that this could be due to local abortionists using outmoded techniques. A general practitioner himself, Dr. Morgentaler claims he can teach obstetrics, and gynecology specialists a few tricks of his trade at his planned freestanding Edmonton clinic.
State-of-the-art aborticide, of course, doesn't come without a few difficult lessons. For instance, in 1973 a low-income, black foreign student entered Dr. Morgentaler's Montreal clinic. He conducted a brief interview, in which she later testified that they discussed primarily the duration of her first pregnancy and whether she had enough money. Dr. Morgentaler accepted $80.00 in cash and a post-dated cheque for $70.00. Four days after her suction-abortion, the woman was admitted for six days to Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital where doctors removed the remains of Dr. Morgentaler's unfinished handiwork.
That misadventure formed the basis for a disciplinary hearing by the Professional Corporation of Physicians of Quebec which suspended Dr. Morgentaler's medical licence in 1976 for a year. The committee stressed that the suspension was not only for doing illegal abortions but for doing them badly: for not holding a valid interview before the abortion, for failing almost completely to gather a case history of his client, for failing to perform the necessary pregnancy test or blood test, for not obtaining pathological examination of the "tissues" removed and for failing to follow up the state of health of his patients afterward.
The panel declared that Dr. Morgentaler's behavior reflected "an attitude which is primarily directed to protecting his fees." It was stated in the testimony that he had reduced his fee from $300 to $200.00 per abortion "and considers himself well paid at this rate. In fact, on the day he was arrested... [he] had already accomplished six abortions between 10 a.m. and noon."
Based on his admission at trial of having by then performed up to 7,000 operations, Dr. Morgentaler was ordered by the Quebec Superior Court to pay the provincial government $354,799 in skipped taxes for the years 1969-72. The disciplinary medical board deplored his practice as one which "confers a mercenary character on the doctor-patient relationship," and said it was "incapable of reconciling [Dr.Morgentaler's] behavior with the humanitarian concern that [he] invoked throughout his defence."
Dr. Morgentaler's conviction was upheld in the Supreme Court of Canada on a question of law. What followed was as unprecedented as it was controversial. Then-justice minister Ron Basford, employing a seldom-used power, ordered a retrial and the conviction was overturned on the basis that it was now deemed "necessary" for Dr. Morgentaler to have broken the law to perform the abortion for which he had been arrested. The licence suspension was, as a result, nullified even though the sworn testimony and the censures of the medical committee stood.
Dr. Morgentaler has trouble recalling the whole of his disciplinary hearing clearly. He dismisses the criticisms against him as "unjustified. These people didn't know anything about abortion," he says. "I was the guy who specialized and pioneered this technique and they criticized me. It was all very biased."
In fact, Dr. Morgentaler says he has been doing abortions to the exclusion of all else for the past 22 years. Oddly enough though, he is only now getting around to tabulating his own success rate. He estimates the complication rate from his clinics at a scanty O.1% to 0.2%, compared to the health board's report of 5.5% in Alberta hospitals in 1987. However, because neither Dr. Morgentaler nor the hospitals consult with patients afterward, Dr. Morgentaler has no way of knowing how many abortions his clinics have botched.
The Montreal Gazette dragged another skeleton out of Dr Morgentaler's closet in 1974. It reported that he had reused disposable polyethylene "vacurettes" on patients. The manufacturer said that the sterilized instruments were sold in packages clearly marked "cannot be reused." Other doctors questioned by the Gazette said that reuse of the unsterilized "vacurettes" could lead to transmission of such diseases as viral hepatitis, tetanus, venereal diseases, gaseous gangrene and' Herpes 11. Today Dr. Morgentaler denies having reused the $3.30 disposables, though the newspaper article claimed he had admitted doing so in a letter to the manufacturer. ("The fact that [the original design] could be reused a few times was an advantage 'to the doctor, even though a disadvantage to you," wrote the irritated Dr. Morgentaler to the manufacturer.) According to Gazette lawyer Keith Hain, Dr. Morgentaler never took any legal action against the paper.
In 1985 an article appeared in the Toronto Star describing two very different accounts: one from Dr. Morgentaler and one from a former patient. The woman claimed that when she changed her mind at the last minute in Dr. Morgentaler's operating room, they shoved a sanitary napkin in her mouth and did it anyway. He told the Toronto Star that the woman was offered the napkin to bite on as a matter of routine and that afterward she gave him a big hug. He also said the woman was a Latin American immigrant who had been frightened into complaining against him by the police.
Dr. Morgentaler's eligibility to practice medicine in Alberta is now being considered by the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Deputy registrar Donald Chadsey says he was personally unaware of Dr. Morgentaler's past medical reprimand in Quebec but doesn't find it relevant today.
With all but a few Alberta hospitals now refusing to abort pregnancies, Dr.Morgentaler may find his fifth franchise outlet lucrative. In addition to running the chain, he says that he personally terminates about 40 pregnancies per week. Although he normally works in Toronto, on the Alberta fee schedule (which most abortionists complain is too low) he could reasonably expect to start billing the Alberta health plan about $220,000 each year. (It pays $112 for each.) But he also plans to extra-bill his patients to cover clinic costs. In Toronto, for example, his extra fee ranges from $250 to $500, depending on how old the fetus is. If Dr. Morgentaler charged an average $350 facility fee at his proposed Edmonton clinic on top of the $112 flat fee to the government, he or any one of his doctors could quite conceivably haul in a gross revenue of nearly $1 million a year.
Morgentaler being sued for negligence
Media turning a blind eye to alleged misdeed
Paul Tuns
September 2004
In a story you would be hard-pressed to find in the mainstream media, abortionist Henry Morgentaler is being sued for at least $185,000 for an alleged botched abortion last year on an Ottawa woman, which she claims caused damage to her reproductive organs and harm to her marriage.
A Canadian Press wire story reported that an Ottawa couple filed documents with the Ontario Superior Court alleging that an August 8, 2003 abortion she had at Morgentaler's abortuary was committed without anesthetic due to an inability to insert an IV. They also claimed that she experienced cramping and bleeding, but when she contacted the abortuary the following week, she was told such symptoms are normal after such an operation.
On August 23, 2003, the woman was hospitalized, when after two weeks, the symptoms did not let up. Emergency medical staff removed a placenta and the unexcavated remains of the aborted baby.
The documents state that the woman's periods remain irregular and that she still experiences bleeding. The couple, who say that the ordeal has strained their marriage and threatens the woman's ability to have children in the future, are suing for negligent medical care. They are also suing for expenses, loss of income and legal costs. [Read entire article at:]
How Many Abortions Performed Since 1973?
How many abortions altogether have there been since the Roe v. Wade decision? Given that there are disagreements over numbers and that there are abortionists who do not report, a precise figure is hard to come by. Nevertheless, we can use the numbers we do have to arrive at some pretty close estimates of the total number of children lost to abortion since 1973.
NRLC typically uses the numbers reported by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) to compute its totals. Unlike the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), AGI surveys abortionists directly rather than passively accepting what is sent to it. Therefore AGI's totals are both higher and more accurate.
AGI, however, does not conduct its survey every year. This makes it necessary to develop projections for the non-reporting years based on trends shown in CDC reports. This is possible because, although they have different base numbers, CDC and AGI figures roughly track one another, generally increasing or decreasing by similar percentages.
The last AGI numbers are for 1996. Totaling all of AGI's figures 1973-1996, the number of abortions through 1996 is 35,316,203. To bring that figure up through the end of 1999 requires several steps.
The first step is based on the fact that the CDC reported a 3% drop in the number of abortions between 1996 and 1997. Since AGI reported 1,365,730 abortions in 1996, we arrive at an estimated number of abortions in the U.S. for 1997 at 1,324,758 (the 1996 figure minus 3%). That would raise the figure through 1997 to 36,640,961. But what about 1998 and 1999? To be conservative, we will assume that figure did not decline further - - that the number of abortions for 1998 and for 1999 was the same as for 1997. Under that scenario, AGI's figure would show a total of 38,146,094 abortions from 1973 to 1999 (36,640,961 plus 1,324,758 x two).
Even that figure is incomplete. As AGI itself admits, it is not able to tally all abortions. If one factors in the additional 3% of abortions AGI says may be missed due to underreporting, the total figure since 1973 rises to 39,290,477.