Former Governor General Michaelle Jean poses with doctor Henry Morgentaler after decorating him as member of the Order of Canada Friday, Oct. 10, 2008 at the Citadelle in Quebec City. Morgentaler, a doctor who became a crusader for Canadian women's rights to have abortions, died this morning, an abortion activist was told by the family. — Canadian Press photo
TORONTO — Abortion rights crusader Henry Morgentaler has died. He was 90.
Carolyn Egan, with the Ontario Coalition of Abortion Clinics, says she spoke with members of Morgentaler’s family, who told her he died early this morning.
She was told he was surrounded by family and it was a peaceful death at his Toronto home.
Morgentaler, who was born in Poland and came to Canada after the Second World War, emerged in 1967 as an advocate for the right of women to have abortion on demand — a polarizing issue in Canada.
Three years later, Morgentaler opened the first abortion clinic in Montreal, followed by more clinics across the country.
Pro-life activists targeted the clinics and rallies, protests and legal battles followed until Jan. 28, 1988, when the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s abortion law as unconstitutional.
In an interview with The Canadian Press in 2004, Morgentaler said his five-year stay in the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau prepared him for his showdown with Canada’s legal system.