Morgentaler Raises Funds for NB Lawsuit
by Joyce Arthur
On October 9, Dr. Henry Morgentaler hosted a successful fundraising event at the Royal Theater in Toronto. The purpose was to raise funds for his New Brunswick court case and bring public attention to the issue. The NB government stubbornly refuses to fund his clinic there, in blatant violation of the Canada Health Act and the Supreme Court Morgentaler decision (more info here). New Brunswick is the only province in Canada where many women are forced to pay out-of-pocket for their abortions, creating a serious hardship.
Almost 250 people attended the fundraiser, which consisted of a dinner, followed by the premiere showing in Canada of the new documentary film “Henry.” The movie was well-received by the audience. Warm and personal, it captured Henry’s personality and spirit and the issues that drive him. The abortion issue was more of a backdrop, showing some of the history and what Dr. Morgentaler went through, but focusing much more on him personally. You really felt like you were getting to know his family. As Dr. Morgentaler’s wife Arlene Liebovitch commented after the film, it felt like their private lives were an open book. The director of the film, Dara Bratt, was in attendance and answered questions from the audience. She said she had filmed over 55 hours of footage for the movie. Bratt is currently looking for a distributor for her movie.
Dr. Morgentaler is now 84 years old and was in good spirits for the event. He looked well, in spite of undergoing major heart surgery last year and being a little hard of hearing.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC-CDAC) had a strong presence at the event, with Joyce Arthur and Carolyn Egan attending. Just before the film, ARCC-CDAC formally presented a cheque to Dr. Morgentaler from our legal fund for the sum of $10,000. Included in the packet given out to every attendee was a card from Dr. Morgentaler listing major donors. ARCC-CDAC’s name was at the top of the list. Also in the packet was ARCC-CDAC’s brochure, while the most recent issue of our newsletter was made available in the lobby. We are also checking out the possibility of bringing the film “Henry” to other cities for special showings.
Several media personalities attended the event, including Heather Mallick and Evan Solomon, who also gave a speech. A who’s who of Toronto’s pro-choice community and other pro-choice leaders from across Canada were in attendance, including Canada’s famous feminist and Dr. Morgentaler’s close friend, Judy Rebick, who was prominently featured in the film. Most of the staff from the Toronto Morgentaler Clinic were there, as well as staff from other abortion clinics, and representatives from the National Abortion Federation, Canadians for Choice, and Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics.