CAW Mourns the Loss of Dr. Henry Morgentaler
May 30, 2013, 9:28 PM EST
"It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Dr. Henry Morgentaler," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
Dr. Morgentaler, a champion for women's rights and a friend to the labour movement, who was instrumental in advancing the cause for a woman's right to choose, changed Canadian law and saved thousands of women's lives.
"Dr. Morgentaler's passing is a loss for Canada," Lewenza said. "His determination to challenge unjust anti-abortion laws inspires me to stand up against other injustices in society. It is vitally important for men to speak up for a woman's right to control her own body."
"It took courageous women along with Dr. Morgentaler to change the law that restricted women's access to safe abortions," said Julie White, Director of the CAW Women's Programs. "His lifetime commitment to this struggle will continue to inspire us to fight for reproductive rights for all women."
White said this must include addressing the lack of access for poor women, rural women, low income women, marginalized women and women of colour from accessing abortions.
The CAW has a long history of commitment to women's reproductive rights. Many CAW Locals were instrumental in supporting Dr. Morgentaler when he was criminally charged in 1970. Cliff Pilkey, the late former Ontario Federation of Labour president and former CAW Local 222 president, spoke forcefully in favour of an historic motion brought to the 1982 OFL convention supporting action to legalize abortion. These acts of solidarity were turning points in the labour movement, entrenching the connection between labour and the fight for women's rights.
Despite the gains made as a result of Dr. Morgentaler's brave work, these rights are constantly under attack. Several private members bills have been presented to parliament by Conservative MPs in recent years, including the controversial bill M-312 in 2012. The CAW responded immediately to the proposed bill urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to live up to his word and uphold a women's right to a legal abortion.
"We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Morgentaler and the women who took on this struggle before us. In his absence we must be vigilant in protecting these hard won gains and continue his work with passion," said White.
Dr. Morgentaler died on May 29.