Legal but Limited: Abortion Access and Abortion Tourism in Canada
Christabelle Sethna, Professor, University of Ottawa
Marion Doull, Doctoral Candidate, University of Ottawa
In 1969, the Canadian government liberalized the conditions under which a legal
therapeutic abortion could be performed. These conditions proved, however, to be so
restrictive that many women were forced to turn to "abortion tourism," or travel to other
provinces, cities and countries to access an abortion. In 1988, the Supreme Court of
Canada struck down the abortion law as unconstitutional. Yet despite the fact that
abortion now is completely legal in Canada, regional disparities have seriously limited
many Canadian women's access to pregnancy termination.
These disparities have again forced many women to travel far from home to access
abortion services. This paper will provide a history of abortion legislation, abortion services
and abortion tourism in Canada from the 1960s onward.