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Abortion access

Canadian court decisions

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The following is general information only, and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Do not make any decisions on the basis of this essay. If you have a personal problem in this area, you may want to consult a legal professional.

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Abortion access is a federal matter in Canada; only one law governs abortion access across the entire country. This contrasts with the U.S. where each state has jurisdication over abortion access within its own territory.

During 1988-JAN-28, the Canadian Supreme Court determined that the 1969 Federal law regulating abortion to be in conflict with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- the Canadian constitution. The law was thus declared unconstitutional across the country. Almost three decades later, Canada still lacks a law restricting abortion. The decision whether or not to have the procedure is left up to :

  • the woman,
  • her physician working under the regulations of her provincial medical association, and perhaps
  • the woman's spiritual advisor.

Canada is believed to be unique among Western countries by lacking a law regulating abortion access. Attempts have been made to introduce bills into Parliament to restrict access to abortion. None have been successful as of 2019-APR.

Until and unless a new law is passed that controls abortion access in Canada, the regulations of individual provincial and territorial medical associations will control access.

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  1. "R. v. Morgentaler," (1988), Canadian Legal Information Institute, at:
  2. A more complete description of Canadian law on abortion is available from the World Wide Legal Information Association at:

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Copyright 1998 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2018-DEC-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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