On December 8, 1983, Roland Penner, the NDP Attorney General of Manitoba, announced that he was withdrawing the charge of conspiracy of performing an illegal abortion against abortionist Henry Morgentaler. He then laid a new charge of performing an illegal abortion, a charge Mr. Penner knew in advance to be meaningless as Morgentaler was not in Manitoba at the time.
In the last week of November, Morgentaler sought permission to be absent from Court in Toronto. He promptly showed up in Winnipeg on Monday morning of the week of December 8, 1983, and was let off the hook in Manitoba six days later.
The changing of charges is a demonstration of partisanship on the part of Mr. Penner, who as openly stated his support for the pro-abortionist cause. But much worse it is interference in Canadian justice.
There was ample proof that Morgentaler had “conspired” or agreed to establish an illegal abortion clinic. The possibility of obtaining a conviction on this charge was excellent. However, a conviction on the new charge of performing an illegal abortion in Winnipeg would be impossible as the charge itself is a joke.
As well, Morgentaler’s staff, Dr. Robert Scott and Nurse Lynn Crocker, had their charges changed from “conspiracy” to “performing an illegal abortion.” This opens the way for their lawyer to argue the defence of “necessity,” which will make the case for the prosecution much more difficult.
Penner has set Morgentaler free in Manitoba. There can be no conviction against him in that province at this time. As well, the possibility of Robert Scott or Lynn Crocker being convicted on their new charges has been lessened considerably.
The background to this move by Penner is that the abortion-supporting NDP government in Manitoba is trying to make it possible to establish abortion clinics across the province.
Such paving the way for abortion clinics in the province of Manitoba is a perversion of the office of the Attorney General. Dr. Neil Haywood, president of the Manitoba Medical Association, speaking at Red River Community College, said recently that, to his knowledge, nobody has crossed the Manitoba/U.S. border in the last few months to have an abortion. In other words, the legal abortionists in Manitoba hospitals can handle the “load.”
It must not go unnoticed that the quick changing of the charges against Morgentaler was managed with cunning and speed. Penner’s announcement was made on a weekend, Saturday, Dec. 8. With Winnipeg winter temperatures at thirty-below-zero and Christmas just around the corner there was not much the pro-life movement could do.
These are strange times, indeed. An illegal abortionist can now make this country a base for capitalizing on his or her activities. Moreover, our elected legal executive (in Manitoba at any rate) seems ready and willing to intercede, to interfere with Canadian law, in order to help the business along.
Readers who find themselves less than proud of this Attorney General’s evident public advocacy of the activities of these lawbreakers may wish to help warm up an otherwise cold Manitoba winter with a letter or two.
One could write directly to Attorney General Roland Penner on the need for impartiality, for example. Like actors and singers, politicians have a constant need for feedback from their audience, partly to reassure them that someone is watching after all, partly to let them know when they forget themselves or step out of role. Indeed, Premier Howard Pawley and Opposition Leader Gary Filmon might be equally interested in your opinion of Penner’s partisan ploys and of his fitness to continue as Attorney General of Manitoba.
The address of all three of these elected officials is as follows: