Henry Morgentaler was the subject of an article in Quest magazine in October of 1983. In this article was the following statement about his pricing policy: He made money – $350.00 per procedure (per abortion) until the first Montreal raid, after which he lowered his price to $250.00. In cases of need he took less or nothing.
A call was made to the Toronto clinic some weeks after it had been raided on July 5, 1983. The following is a record of that conversation.
Caller: I want to have an abortion. Can I have an appointment?
Clinic: No, I’m sorry. We’re not operating at the moment. The equipment was taken during the raid.
Caller: Well, are you opening up again soon?
Clinic: Money has been raised and we’re hoping to re-open sometime in the near future, yes.
Caller: Well, can I come down then? I’m desperate. How long will it be? I have to do something.
Clinic: I can’t say. There are certain legal difficulties, we’re not sure when it will be.
Caller: Should I wait till you do? What do you think?
Clinic: No. It could be a while and it’s not a good idea to delay. But look, you can go to Buffalo – or to the clinic in Montreal. The other alternative is to have the abortion done in Toronto. It will be covered by OHIP but there is a delay of 3-4 weeks and it’s not very definite as the hospital has the committee system that can refuse you.
Caller: Oh. How much does it cost to go to the Montreal clinic?
Caller: Oh. But, I just don’t have that kind of money. I don’t have any family or friends – I’m on my own, I mean there’s no way I can afford that. I’m really desperate. I didn’t know it would cost that much. What can I do?
Clinic: Look, I can try to get it down to $185 – but that’s the absolute lowest price I can get you.
Caller: But I just don’t have it. I mean, I would have to pay my fare to Montreal and back. I don’t have anybody I could ask or anything … (becoming very distressed). I don’t know what to do…
Clinic: I’m sorry. That’s the best I can do for you. Look, are you really sure you want this abortion?
Caller: (Hesitates) Well, I don’t know … I … Well, I think I do. I mean, I don’t know what else to do.
Following the expression of ambivalence by the caller about going through with an abortion, the receptionist became suddenly brisk and businesslike. She quickly referred the caller to a birth control operation and a Toronto clinic.
What was that about “in case of need he took less – or nothing?”