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Description found in Archives
Fonds consists of
1. Canadian Abortion Rights Action League fonds [textual record]
2. Canadian Abortion Rights Action League fonds [textual record]
3. Canadian Abortion Rights Action League fonds [textual record] (1998-00740-5)
4. Canadian Abortion Rights Action League fonds [textual record] (1999-00072-2)
5. Canadian Abortion Rights Action League fonds [textual record] (1999-01201-1)
6. Canadian Abortion Rights Action League fonds [textual records, moving images, graphic materials] (2010-00143-5)
7. Canadian Abortion Rights Action League fonds [textual record] (2010-00197-4)
Place of creation
2 photographs : b&w.
2 film reels (52min, 41s).
1 u-matic tape (27min, 23s).
Language of material
Scope and content
Fonds consists of records acquired and accumulated by the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League, which document its operation and pro-choice activities from its inception in 1974. The fonds is arranged into two series. The Administrative series consists of files relating to the organization's history; its annual, general and regular board of directors' meetings; its chapters across Canada; its lobbying activities with federal and provincial politicians; Bill C-43; various pro-choice campaigns conducted by CARAL; anti-choice mail and materials; and the work of the Pro-Choice Defence Fund. The Legal Cases series consists, for the most part, of transcripts and other records relating to several of Dr. Henry Morgentaler's legal court battles.
Conditions of access
Textual records Finding aid is a file list. MSS2194 90 (Electronic)
Creator / Provenance
Biography / Administrative history
Canadians for Repeal of the Abortion Law (later known as the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League) was founded on June 20, 1973 in Toronto, by June Callwood, Kay Macpherson, Lorna Grant, Eleanor Wright Pelrine, Esther Greenglass and Henry Morgentaler. They were among the early leaders of the pro-choice movement in Canada. Since the 1960's, they and others had lobbied against Canada's abortion law. Birth control itself had only been declared legal in Canada since 1969. That year also saw the Criminal Code amended to allow board-sanctioned therapeutic abortions in accredited hospitals. In August 1973, Dr. Morgentaler was charged with performing an illegal abortion in his Montreal clinic, under Section 45 of the Criminal Code. He was later tried and acquitted. CARAL played a large and active role in the defence of Dr. Henry Morgentaler. Most the 1970's was devoted to his trials, imprisonment and appeals.
On November 19, 1974, the Canadian Association for the Repeal of the Abortion Law was founded in Ottawa with Ed Ratcliffe, of London, Ont. as its founding president. In 1980, its name was changed to the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League. It established its education and research arm "Childbirth by Choice trust" in 1982. A year later, it established the Pro-Choice Defence Fund in July, which underwrote legal actions involving the Morgentaler Clinics in Toronto and Winnipeg. In 1981, CARAL also tried to intervene in the Borowski challenge to Section 251 of the Criminal Code in the Supreme Court and later initiated "Stand Up and Be Counted" campaigns.
CARAL is the only national pro-choice organization in Canada. It was incorporated in 1984. It is run by a volunteer board of directors on a non-profit basis and holds annual general meetings each spring. The national office is located in Ottawa. In 1991, it had 36 chapters across the country with over 18,000 members.
CARAL relies entirely on private donations and has no charitable status. Its work has focussed on preventing the recriminalization of abortion and improving access to birth control and abortion services. Its activities include lobbying federal and provincial legislators across the country; pressing governments to fund clinics; educating the public on abortion-related issues through literature and speaking engagements; supporting its local chapters across Canada and medical doctors who provide abortion services and fund-raising.
1. Abortion - Canada - Moral and ethical aspects, 1975-1988
2. "The Case against Criminal Status", 1988.
3. Abortion - Societies, etc., 1975-1988
4. Henry Morgentaler, 1975, 1983.
5. Abortion - Records, 1975-1988.
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