After Morgentaler

The Politics of Abortion in Canada

Rachael Johnstone

  • Published: 2017. Paperback April 2018
  • Subject Listing: Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Health; Politics
  • Bibliographic information: 240 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: US rights only
  • Distributed for: UBC Press
  • Contents

The landmark decision R. v. Morgentaler (1988) struck down Canada's abortion law and is widely believed to have established a right to abortion, but its actual impact is much less decisive. In After Morgentaler, Rachael Johnstone examines the state of abortion access in Canada today and argues that substantive access is essential to full citizenship for women. Using case studies, Johnstone assesses the role of both state and non-state actors in shaping access. This book affirms the need to recognize abortion as an issue fundamentally tied to women's equality, while stressing the utility of rights claims to improve access.
Rachael Johnstone is assistant professor at the Bader International Study Centre (Queen's University, Canada) in the United Kingdom.

"After Morgentaler will quickly occupy benchmark status in the comparative health care and reproductive-rights policy literatures. Through case studies, Rachael Johnstone illuminates the strategies of pro- and anti-choice groups, and health-professional organizations, by situating them in Canadian institutional, legal, and political history. The result is a clear argument for why shifting to a positive-rights understanding of the Charter is needed to safeguard women's constitutionally protected access to reproductive health care."
-Melissa Haussman, professor, Department of Political Science, Carleton University

"In addition to making a strong case for reconceptualising abortion as a right of citizenship for women, this book offers a useful study of comparative provincial politics and health care more generally."
-Francesca Scala, associate professor of Political Science, Concordia University

"Rachael Johnstone has written a highly accessible and engaging account of abortion rights in Canada, arguing persuasively that the right to abortion is both precarious and partial, despite widespread public support and a legal regime that, at least nominally, grants women the right to terminate a pregnancy if they so choose. She powerfully demonstrates the limits of rights-based struggles and the nuances of the courts-versus-legislatures sideshow that can interrupt arguments for women's reproductive choice."
-Lois Harder, professor of Political Science, University of Alberta

"After Morgentaler makes an important contribution to our understanding of how we got to where we are on abortion now in Canada and where we might go in the future. This is an engaging and enlightening read."
-Jocelyn Downie, professor, Faculties of Law and Medicine, Dalhousie University

1. The Anti-abortion, Pro-choice, and Reproductive Justice Movements
2. Federal Politics and the Supreme Court
3. Abortion in the Provinces
4. Abortion as Health Care
5. Social Movement Activism in the Provinces
6. Never Going Back