Yes, I do have several hundred Canadian readers. Or maybe even more if they share the computers as thrifty Canadians might. In any case, Dave from Canada suggested this action alert for all of you so that you don't have to feel slighted on this here blog:
Spring Convocation Honours Feminists, Leaders in Healthcare and Education
As a Humanist leader Dr. Henry Morgentaler has promoted the idea that
people have a right to control their own sexuality and reproduction,
without interference by the state. He founded the first abortion
clinic in Montreal in 1968 and in the years that followed he
challenged the criminal code by providing safe abortions for women in
his clinic in Montreal. His belief in a "Woman's Right to Choose"
eventually led to a change in the law. He has continued to campaign
province by province seeking to provide abortion services under
Medicare to women deprived of access - a struggle which continues to
this day. Today, Dr. Morgentaler operates six clinics in Canada
providing excellent care for women in need of abortion and
A group called "Catholics For Life" has raised a petition against
granting Henry Morgentaler his honorary doctorate and at last count
have gathered 12000 signatures. Their arguments are typical wingnut
fare, mostly name-calling and insistence that Mr. Morgentaler has
"personally killed thousands of unborn children" and whatnot. They
even have a website that apes the design of the UWO site to give the
impression they are somehow affiliated with the university.
An online petition to uphold the decision to grant the honorary degree
is up at http://www.petitiononline.com/DRHM0605/petition.html , and
concerned Canadians (or Canada sympathizers) can write to Dr. Paul
Davenport, president of UWO, by email at email@example.com, or by postal
University of Western Ontario,
1151 Richmond Street, Suite 2,
London, ON N6A 5B8
A sample letter follows.
Dave from Montreal
I understand that you are currently under pressure from religious
groups to deny Henry Morgentaler the honorary doctorate UWO plans to
bestow on him this Thursday. I am writing to ask you to please stick
to your conviction that Mr. Morgentaler is a hero, not a murderer. I
am writing to remind you, in case the insistence of catholic
anti-abortion groups has worn at your resolve, that the Canadian
supreme court has repeatedly upheld a woman's right to dominion over
her own body and that no group may by force of numbers overturn that.
I am writing you, Doctor Davenport, because I know you have said that
you support Mr. Morgentaler's honouring by the university because of
his persistent efforts to first enact, then uphold a woman's right to
choose. While you are right to say that religious groups' opinions are
not to be dismissed or disrespected, neither may they be relied on to
create policy in any secular institution.
You have acknowledged the numerous and fiery responses from both sides
of this debate, and so I would like to make one point: my opinion on
abortion does not matter, and should be disregarded.
In matters of civil liberties public opinion should have no sway. I'm
sure I don't need to point out to you that were this not the case we
would have far more inequality than we do, and that "Tyranny of the
Majority" would rule. So please, heed the wisdom of the supreme court
and grant Mr Morgentaler, and whoever might come after him, the
respect and honour they are due as champions of the struggle for civil
rights and against oppression.