I got the shock of my life recently. The phone rang. I picked it up and heard a very familiar voice.

“Is that you ‘Idiothead’ – er I mean Frank?’

With that delightful little nickname that he had for me I knew who it was, old friend Henry Morgentaler, immediately.

“Frank, I’m in deep trouble – I’m in jail.”

“Jail?” I thought to myself – why that’s the best news I’ve heard in years – Henry Morgentaler on jail!


“China. I was over here setting up a chain of abortion clinics. The government assured me that it was a favourable climate to work. They even execute pro-lifers who picket abortion clinics. With those kind of incentives – how could I possibly pass up such a business opportunity.”

“The Communist Chinese government executes pro-lifers?” “Well, what are you doing in jail?”

“I’ve been convicted on charges that I was a pro-lifer.”

“You – Morgy – convicted of being a pro-lifer – how low can they get?”

“Much lower – a bullet in the back of my head.”

“Morgy – you’re joshing me?”

“No, I’ve already been sentenced to be executed. I’m appealing my sentence. Pro-lifer is a nasty word in China.”

“Morgy – I’ve known you for a long time – but I’ve never stooped to calling you that. What were the grounds?”

“I refused to abort a woman who had one child already. They had dragged her in off the street into my new abortion clinic. They accused me of being pro-choice, which means pro-life over here.”

“Have you appealed to the Canadian Embassy for help?”

“Have I ever – numerous occasions. The Canadian Embassy didn’t want to hazard a $670 million atomic energy plant that we’ve practically sold the Chinese. The Canadian Embassy says that it is better that one man die for Canada than upset the Canadian trade applecart.”

“How can I help you?”

To the Rescue?

“You’ve got to fly over here immediately and tell them that I’m solidly pro-abortion – that I hate pro-lifers with a long-lasting hate and that you’re willing to testify to that. You are famous over here for being pro-life. They have pictures of you all over the place – unfortunately with a line through your face diagonally.”

“Well thanks a lot. I’m to risk my life… “

“No, I’ve arranged with Ottawa for you to have a diplomatic passport and it’s waiting for you in my Lear Jet at Pearson Airport.”

“How’d you manage to pull that?”

“The Supreme Court unanimously overruled the cabinet. I have a lot of friends on the Supreme Court.”

I agreed to come. It wasn’t so much saving Morg’s life that interested me as having a free ride in a Lear Jet.

I arrived in China and took the biggest limo I could find to the court house. (Morgy was paying). There was poor Morgy – scraggily beard – shabbily dressed – in chains. He greeted me enthusiastically and was allowed to sit with me. Three of the unhappiest looking judges I’ve ever seen in my life were to judge his appeal. An aging Chinese gentleman speaking terrible English addressed the court about the Morgentaler case with a lot of limp arguments. I turned to Morgy and said: “I don’t think much of the prosecutor.” Morgy said “That’s not the prosecutor – that’s my lawyer.” Then I knew that Morgy was in trouble.

Immediately I stood up in court and broke into the proceedings crying out loudly: “Dr. Morgentaler here is guilty of crimes against the Chinese government and he is deserving of death! But why should the government of China upset the $670 million atomic plant deal with Canada by executing a Canadian citizen?! Let me take this despicable pro-choicer back to Canada and let the government of Canada execute Morgentaler. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien would probably like to do it himself. Remember his magic word “Trade.”

They all huddled briefly and the next thing we knew Morgy and I were back in Morgy’s Lear Jet heading for Canada. He was extremely grateful. I kept the chains on Morgy until we reached international waters. The good news is that there are no Morgentaler abortuaries in China.

(Frank Kennedy, a member of the Interim Board of Directors, writes a monthly column on Ontario government affairs.)