Henry Morgentaler was in Winnipeg, in February, to attend a pro-abortion “celebration” in his honour and to launch a court case against the Manitoba government. Premier Filmon’s Conservative government has refused to authorize medicare payments for abortions performed in Morgentaler-style abortuaries. As in New Brunswick, Morgentaler will argue in Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench, that refusal to pay for abortions in his clinics is unconstitutional and restricts women’s access to abortion, thereby violating her “security of person.”
Once again the child in the womb is a distinct disadvantage. The attorney general’s office in Manitoba will undoubtedly appoint competent counsel to oppose payment of abortion in “clinics;” that lawyer, however, is unlikely to feel the passion and conviction for the issue that characterizes Morgentaler’s lawyers. In addition, Morgentaler has once again chosen the court as his forum, which excludes pro-life and, indeed, any public input.
A number of straw polls conducted some time ago indicated that a significant majority of the public at large in Manitoba opposes medicare payment of “clinic” abortions. Morgentaler, who is in actual fact a bit player in this issue, appears to be trying to line his own pocket at the expense of the taxpayer. He has also offered to sell his clinic to the Manitoba government.
A much bigger problem is the thousands of abortions paid for in Manitoba by a system which is virtually broke and which was originally intended to pay for necessary medical treatment. Abortions are committed for social reasons, not medical ones.
Not content with angering the taxpayers of the province, Morgentaler used his visit to lash out at pro-lifers. He likened sidewalk counselors at his Winnipeg abortuary to “hoodlums” and “vociferous fanatics who are in front of his clinic insulting women.” In a well-calculated outburst he accused pro-life advocates of being just like the Ayatolla Khomeini – intolerant brutal fanatics who threaten people’s freedom for religious reasons and are prepared to kill for tem.
The pro-lifers’ initial response was to laugh at the attack because of its sheer absurdity. But their first reaction was followed by one of anger and dismay at the reckless nature of Morgentaler’s comments designed to incite hatred and anger towards peaceful demonstrators and counselors at the Winnipeg abortuary. At a time when feelings were running very high against Khomeini, who had the British author Salman Rushdie condemned to death for writing his book The Satanic Verses, Morgentaler’s attempt to link pro-lifers wit Khomeini was seen as an invitation to encourage violence against pro-lifers. For this reason serious consideration was given to the possibility of legal action.
However, following further discussions, another view emerged and has prevailed. Morgentaler’s slander was recognized as an attempt to project his own unacknowledged feelings onto others.
In reality, it is he who has put a price on the head of unborn babies. In Winnipeg, the Morgentaler ‘Clinic’ collects $300 for each baby killed up to 12 weeks of prenatal life, and $400 for babies between 12 and 14 weeks of prenatal life. Morgentaler’s repeated insistence that there is no baby until 20-24 weeks would appear to highlight his deliberate efforts to evade very stressful situations. Perhaps Morgentaler is “more to be pitied.”
At any rate, legal action against this kind of hate campaign is not only costly but would provide futile. As in previous cases, Morgentaler carefully avoids the mention of specific persons. Courts of law do not consider sweeping generalizations a matter for a legal case.