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Dr. Henry Morgentaler: 1923-2013. (FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Dr. Henry Morgentaler: 1923-2013. (FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

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May 31: Morgentaler’s legacy, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Morgentaler’s legacy

Re A Doctor Of Defiance (May 30): Like many Canadian women of my generation, I owe a huge personal debt to Henry Morgentaler for his intervention in my life. In May, 1970, my own doctor laughed at me (not kindly) when I said I wasn’t ready to have a third child, just weeks after we had adopted our second. Later, I did have that third child – “every child a wanted a child.”

Dr. Morgentaler’s third Montreal trial took place in September, 1976. My friends and I from the New Woman Centre sat in the courtroom, trying for eye contact with the jurors. We were young and ageist, and feared that the older women on the jury (much younger than I am now) would go for guilty. Later, we learned we were wrong. He was acquitted by a jury for the third time.

We held a fundraiser for Dr. Morgentaler’s legal bills, a small act of reciprocity. I have never stopped feeling grateful to him.

Roberta Hamilton, Kingston

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Although I am pro-choice and helped a friend receive a safe, illegal Morgentaler abortion in 1968, I have always found that there is something deeply disturbing about a man who survived the Holocaust spending the rest of his life focused on ending potential life. Although I am grateful that Canada’s abortion law was struck down, a life centred on something so negative strikes me as being very dark and cynical.

Bonnie Laing, Dunvegan, Ont.

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For decades, Henry Morgentaler took his message to an unprepared generation and successfully deceived them by separating humanity from the pre-born child. His victory has led to a path that sets Canada apart from nearly every other country. With no legal protections for children in the womb, we are aligned with North Korea and China.

A majority of Canadians support restrictions on late-term abortions. It is time for the federal government to act swiftly in correcting this egregious human-rights violation.

Mike Schouten, campaign director, WeNeedaLAW.ca, Surrey, B.C.

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The same day that Henry Morgentaler died, El Salvador’s supreme court ruled that a 22-year-old woman known as Beatriz cannot terminate a life-threatening pregnancy without facing criminal charges that could see her jailed for up to 30 years for aggravated homicide.

In fragile health and suffering from lupus and kidney failure, Beatriz is carrying a fetus that is developing without a brain. Medical experts believe she would risk losing her life in childbirth and predict the baby would die shortly thereafter. Inter Pares’s Salvadorian counterpart, the Feminist Collective, is calling on El Salvador’s government to rescind legislation passed in 1998 that criminalizes all abortions, and that has already led to the imprisonment of over 600 women.

As Salvadoran women demand access to safe and legal abortion, we are reminded that the struggle that Dr. Morgentaler fought is not over for many women throughout the world.

Bill Fairbairn, program manager, Inter Pares, Ottawa

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All aboard? Well …

Wynne Readies Slow, Hard Sell For Transit Plan (May 30): Parking lot taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes, condo development taxes: These all make sense if there is something offered in return. So far, we have a broken transit system and a promise to fix it from Ontario’s Premier, if we just hand over billions more dollars.

Show us a plan and a critical path, and we might embrace these taxes.

Nancy Pleich, Oakville, Ont.

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Political echoes

I’m extremely frustrated and angry about politicians (and politics) at present. The municipal scandals in Montreal and Toronto, and the Senate scandals have shaken my trust so much, I wonder: tip of the iceberg?

Then there’s the party-over-country attitude of (dare I say all?) elected representatives, which is hijacking the democratic process in this country. Former U.S. president James Garfield’s words reach us from the 19th century, when he warned that if ignorance, recklessness and corruption flourish in government, “it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption.”

Our politicians will continue down this road for as long as we let them.

Susanne Sampson, Courtenay, B.C.

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The scandals besetting Canada’s political scene brings to mind a comment from the diaries of Sir Henry Rider Haggard of King Solomon’s Mines fame. In 1916, he wrote of Parliament that “it is scarcely a place for a self-respecting man who sets store by honesty of purpose and would call his soul his own, though the narrow party politician may find in it a congenial career.”

Ross Peters, Victoria

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Walk the talk

Re If You Build It, They Will Walk (Life & Arts, March 30): Communities where walking and biking are safer and more convenient than driving are too rare in Canada.

Health authorities should publish statistics on the relationship between motor vehicle usage and debilitating diseases, as they did for tobacco. When they demand health warnings on car advertising, with pictures showing the terrible consequences of diseases closely related to the lack of activity made worse by our reliance on automobiles, perhaps we will look for alternatives to driving our children to school.

Charles Feaver, Winnipeg

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Define ‘rich’

Most people don’t define themselves as rich, so it is easy to point the finger and say, “Yes, they should pay more, but I pay enough” (Should The Rich Be Paying More? – May 30).

Where do you draw the line of being “rich,” compared with everyone else? According to gross earnings data from 2011, $65,000 annually puts you in the 80th percentile; $80,000 gets you in the 90th percentile; $105,000 has you in the 95th percentile and it takes $250,000 to be in the 99th percentile. If you draw the line for being rich at the last figure, I’m pretty sure it won’t be a very lucrative revenue tool.

This type of approach is typically to satisfy the segment of the population looking for their pound of flesh, rather than a viable revenue stream. If you are going to create a realistic and sustainable revenue stream, you’ll likely need to go back to the 80th percentile level. Not sure that would politically acceptable.

Geoffrey Knapper, Hamilton

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Discussions about income disparity usually fail to consider the plight of pensioners, whose income is being seriously eroded by tax increases. This issue is one where Canada would do well to look at the provisions made in Europe, particularly Germany and Sweden, to reduce the impact of taxation on pensions.

Bernard Booth, Ottawa

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We should tax the rich for the same reason that Willie Sutton supposedly gave when asked why he robbed banks: because that’s where the money is!

Gerald Villeneuve, Windsor, Ont.

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